A few quick links

  • Catholics for Choice responds to the Pope’s recent thoughts on “the woman question.” Well worth reading.

  • An article in the Times reports another cost of our absurb lack of decent single-payer care: higher unemployment. Faced with the fast-rising costs of healthcare, employers are choosing not to hire. Yet another way we’d be better off if health insurance was automatic, instead of being connected to employment.
  • The New York Times provides an amazingly useless article on the new overtime regulations. It points out that critics claim that Bush’s new rules will cut off up to six million workers from overtime; the Bush administration claims that’s all lies; and the article provides the readers with absolutely no context to help decide which side is right.

    It reminds me of this cartoon I drew back in 2003.

    As Matthew Ygelsias points out, we can pretty safely assume that anything favored by the Chamber of Commerce and opposed by the AFL-CIO is going to have a net effect of cutting wages and increasing profits. But it would be nice to read a more substantial analysis of the competing claims about the new law.

  • I can’t even describe Ken Layne’s post “The God of War, Death & Madness,” but I’ll provide a quote.
    “In Vietnam, Kerry is a death’s head of gruesome power, while your Bush hides in Alabama, a scared little girl. And what did little Bush do in Texas?”

    Blair grinned, foolishly thinking the ball was again in his court. “He killed many people in Texas. All those executions ….”

    “Ha! Your girly Bush killed nobody. He signed off on lethal injections. He’s a middle manager in a cubicle at the suburban branch of the Bank of Death, initialing memos he doesn’t even know how to read.”

    Do read the whole. Via Pendantry.

  • If you don’t know about bugmenot.com you should. Never register to read free online news content again – just get a working password from this brilliant site.
  • You must check out the winners of the 2004 Worst Manual Contest. Sample quote from the winning manual: “To apply the cold wind to the body for a longtime and so as to not exist about cooling too much.” Via – o, heck, I lost it.
  • “He” and “him” are not gender-neutral pronouns. If you disagree, explain why the sentence “Was it your father or your mother who broke his leg on a ski trip?” doesn’t work.
  • The Head Heeb reminds us that it’s less than three weeks until the 350th anniversary of the arrivial of the first Jews in North America.
  • Kip discusses the book The Compleat Gentleman. Fave quote: “There is something rather perfectly disingenuous about writing a book that insists lording it over everyone else is within the reach of us all.” But the whole thing will repay your reading efforts.
  • Via Kip, this brilliant little quicktime movie – Fuck New York - cracked me up completely. And while I’m stealing links from Kip, this quicktime movie of young men acrobatically jumping from building to building (among other things) is extremely cool.
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29 Responses to A few quick links

  1. 1
    lucia says:

    I have to admit, I read MYglesias post at Tapped and thought he didn’t get things quite right. He thinks you can be pretty sure the AFL-CIO wants to maximize worker pay. That’s sort of right. Here is the quibble-The AFL-CIO may be concerned with union members pay and not necessarily pay for other people.

    From what I’ve read about the rules (which isn’t much) the difference in how the rule affect some high pay union members vs. low pay non-union members might make a difference when evaluating whether or not people in general will get less over time.

    One claim is that companies call a whole bunch of very low paying job categories “salary/supervisory”, and then demand people work overtime withouth pay. Based on my memory, these jobs are usually in the retail sector, and the jobs are not union jobs. They are sometimes called supervisory, despite the fact that the person in the job supervises absolutely no one.

    I have no idea if this occurs– but it’s not the category the AFL-CIO mostly deals with protecting.

    Of course, on the balance, MY’s general argument seems plausible. If the AFL-CIO opposes the overtime bill and the Chamber of Commerce favors it, then likely both think the bill will result in less overtime pay.

    It would, of course, be useful if the NYTime actually looked into the numbers! (I don’t think I saw anything in the Wall Street Journal about this topic this morning. It’s not unlikely they will run something tomorrow or the next day. I’ll be able to at least comment on their interpretation if they do.)

  2. 2
    lucia says:

    Oh…two posts in a row. I can’t help it!

    I used to know a very nice copy editor who showed me a page similar to this one which discusses the use of singular “their”. The page also lists authors who used the singular their. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Geoffrey Chaucer, The King James Bible…. It’s quite a list.

    It appears the idea that “their” could never be used as singular was introduced in the late 18th century by what the author calls “prescriptive grammarians” (which to my mind, seems to translate into ‘people who didn’t understand linguistics but decided to make up and impose rules”.) The rule that “he” is singular-neuter has never quiet caught on in spoken English, and people have been complaining the rule doesn’t work since the time the grammarians imposed it. There are obviously sentences that feel uncomfortable to most people if you use “he” when you mean “they” (singular)!

  3. 3
    jstevenson says:

    Lucia — What ever happened to “one” or its derivatives.

    “The soccer player kicked one’s ball through one’s own goal.” Makes sense to me.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    “Was it your father or your mother who broke one’s leg on a ski trip?” doesn’t work; in comparison, “Was it your father or your mother who broke their leg on a ski trip?” does. I’m not sure why, but my ear tells me it is so.

  5. 5
    lucia says:

    There is, of course, no doubt, that one can, if one wishes, write sentences that do not use the singular “they”. Sometimes, one can succeed by using “one” where they might otherwise have used “they”.

    Sometimes one can not use “one”, as Am’s example suggest. Yet, one can avoid the abomination of “they” by writing much longer sentences. For example, one could rewrite Amps sentences thusly:

    “Was it your father who broke his leg or your mother who broke her leg on a ski trip?”

    One notes the sentence is perfectly clear. Grammarian’s rejoice! (So what if it’s twice as long?)

    Of course, if one decides to opt for the route of substituting “one” whenever possible, one may sound somewhat, how does one say it, pretentious. Or maybe one might sound like a foreigner– for example Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercules Poirot.

    But, why should sounding unnatural, pretentious or foreign bother anyone when one is seeking purity of language?

    I suspect if one tries to write sentences using “one” where “he” would sound illogical, one will eventually tire of the little game.

  6. 6
    Aaron V. says:

    My favorite from the Engrish air conditioner manual:

    “Do not get on the outdoor unit and do not put the thing. There is possibility to injure by the droping (sic) and the fall….FROINLEVEN!”

  7. 7
    Echidne says:

    In Vietnam, Kerry is a death’s head of gruesome power, while your Bush hides in Alabama, a scared little girl. And what did little Bush do in Texas?”
    Blair grinned, foolishly thinking the ball was again in his court. “He killed many people in Texas. All those executions ….”

    “Ha! Your girly Bush killed nobody. He signed off on lethal injections. He’s a middle manager in a cubicle at the suburban branch of the Bank of Death, initialing memos he doesn’t even know how to read.”

    Note that ‘girl’ is used as an insult twice in this paragraph.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Is that objectionable, given that the context is (I think) a satire of stupid, sexist, macho attitudes?

  9. 9
    jstevenson says:

    Kissling — “Had not feminists asserted that men can be as good at parenting as women, we would not see the enormous changes in custody decisions which grant men more access to their children and even sole custody where it is in the children’s best interests.”

    Did feminists assert that men can be as good at parenting as women? Is Kissling stating that the enormous changes in custody decisions is a by-product desired by the modern feminist movement? I would say that a fallout of feminism is men’s rights and greater roles for men in the family. This fallout or by-product is probably lauded by most true feminists. However, those who the media always parades around as spokeswomen for feminism may not be as happy about it.

    If NOW is an example of modern feminist thought and policy (which I don’t think it necessarily is)then I would disagree that modern feminists continue to advocate greater roles for men in the family. I would say Kissler is not being truly forthcoming in this regard. For instance, in the 1997 National Conference NOW used father’s rights groups” as a reason to advocate diminishing “father’s rights”. http://www.now.org/organization/conference/1996/resoluti.html#alert To advocate diminishing the rights of a father would be, in my humble opinion, not be a positive thing for women or children. The resolution cites a statistic from ACES that “fathers are awarded custody 70% of the time when they seek it.” Does the media annointed feminist spokespeople advocate fathers should not seek some form of custody with their children? How is that a good thing for families? It also, erronously implies that it means “sole” custody. Some of my clients and my opposing parties are fighting for mere 5% custody time with their child. If they win, they are included in that 70%?

  10. 10
    jstevenson says:

    That post was to read: http://www.now.org/organization/conference/1996/resoluti.html#alert To advocate diminishing the rights of a father would be, in my humble opinion, not be a positive thing for women or children. The resolution cites a statistic from ACES that “fathers are awarded custody 70% of the time when they seek it.” Does the media annointed feminist spokespeople advocate fathers should not seek some form of custody with their children? How is that a good thing for families? It also, erronously implies that it means “sole” custody. Some of my clients and my opposing parties are fighting for mere 5% custody time with their child. If they win, they are included in that 70%?

  11. 11
    jstevenson says:

    I still can’t get it right. No italics.

  12. 12
    jstevenson says:

    For a last observation — I thought it was odd that a place where there are no women and no marriage any one could speak with any authority regarding either. I live with a woman and I can’t explain what she should do or why she does what she does.

    Arm chair quarterbacking I say. Tell the Pope — if you want to change it get married and set the example. (is that blaphemous) I am a PROTESTant so I will go home have a beer, commit some sodomy and pray for forgivness. Oh that’s right, I am married — forget the beer and the sodomy, I’ll just pray for forgiveness.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Jstevenson – you keep on putting the “/” on the wrong side of the “i,” which is why your italics aren’t closing properly. To close italics, put /i between carrot-brackets, not i/.

    My take on NOW’s position is that they’re saying that it’s absurb for people who get what they ask for 70% of the time to claim that they’re being discriminated against. They also aren’t against fathers, they’re against father’s rights organizations, which they see as being more about being patriarchal than being about reforming sexist parenting roles.

  14. 14
    NelC says:

    Eh, Lynch is taking a meant-to-be insulting phrase (“girly men”) from a republican (Schwartzeneger) and using it against another republican. Fair game, if you ask me.

    Besides, in the para before he uses the phrase ‘scared little girl’. No matter where you are on the masculinist-feminist spectrum, I don’t think a President acting like a little girl can be regarded as a good thing.

    BTW, you might want to swap a ‘d’ into ‘absurb’, Amp. Wouldn’t care normally — but you did it twice. Argh.

  15. 15
    Amanda says:

    I think the easiest way to resolve the situation would be to write, “Was it your father or your mother who broke a leg on the ski trip?”

  16. 16
    James D says:

    It was my father who broke my leg on the ski trip.

    I know you were trying to be all snide behind my back, but you could’ve just asked me to my face.

    Lucia, one could fall in love with you. That is a compliment.

  17. 17
    Richard Bellamy says:

    A large part of the confusion over overtime laws is that it’s unclear who will be effected and how, since they don’t overrule state laws.

    In New Jersey, for example, where I live the overtime laws are already stricter (more generous to employees) than both the new and the old laws. Therefore, the new laws will have absolutely ZERO effect. Some states it will have some effect, but not much, and other states it will have sweeping effects. To fully understand the total effect will require a full understanding of all 50 state laws, which no one has.

    In terms of the union/non-union division that Lucia raises, I don’t think that has much to do with it. Union employees are generally paid under the terms of collectively bargained union contracts, no background employment laws. If the contract calls for highly paid union employees to get overtime pay, they don’t lose that just because the overtime law changes — the contract trumps the law.

    My understanding is that the major problem with the former overtime law was that it was unclear, ambiguous, and left huge holes for job categories that didn’t exist 50 years ago.

    For gobs of people who are (or are not) making overtime, that is a result of how the employer interpreted the statute — the vast majority are never questioned or litigated. So some computer techs get overtime, some don’t, and the law was always unclear enough to permit a “reasonable” employer to use both practices.

    The Chamber of Commerce hated the ambiguity, because there was always the risk that the computer guy who hadn’t gotten over-time pay over the past ten years would get fired, get angry, and sue for overtime differential for ten hours per week for the past 500 weeks.

    Honestly, it’s not like they are going to pay anyone more. If they have to pay overtime for a certain job, they’ll just start easing down the base pay (or don’t raise it along with inflation) so that the overall pay works out the same. They just want to KNOW.

    There position is primarily, “I don’t care whether I pay the guy $20 per hour, with no overtime, or $16 per hour, and then give him time and a half for over any time over 40 hours. But let me know up front, so I don’t have to pay him $20 per hour, thinking he’s not eligible, and then pay him an extra $10 later when he sues me!”

  18. 18
    mythago says:

    The problem is that the law is unclear enough that even the lawyers aren’t quite sure what applies to whom. And it’s inconsistent–chefs are exempt not because it makes sense for them to be so, but as a sop to the restaurant lobby.

    Richard is right about the union/non-union thing. A CBA controls union members’ wages, not the overtime law.

    I would say that a fallout of feminism is men’s rights and greater roles for men in the family.

    This isn’t a fallout. This is part of the point of feminism.

  19. 19
    lucia says:

    >>A CBA controls union members’ wages, not the overtime law.

    True– but don’t overtime laws provide a base? Meaning, when negotiating, you can’t fall below this level?

  20. 20
    Richard Bellamy says:

    To a certain degree that’s right nationally (although states with higher minimum wages/ stricted ovetime laws often exempt collectively bargained plans), but if your union-negotiated salary is so close to the legal “base” that the change will make a difference, you’re likely getting screwed over by your union.

  21. 21
    Linda says:

    Special thanks for the bugmenot link! Woo hoo!!! Oh, and the reminder from The Head Heeb. Definitely going to get in on that blogburst!

  22. 22
    german says:

    “The soccer player kicked one’s ball through one’s own goal.” Makes sense to me.

  23. 23
    Don P says:

    “He” and “him” are not gender-neutral pronouns. If you disagree, explain why the sentence “Was it your father or your mother who broke his leg on a ski trip?” doesn’t work.

    I don’t really understand the question. If you disagree that “her” and “him” are not gender-neutral, why would you need to explain why that sentence doesn’t work, or even agree that it doesn’t work?

    The meaning of the sentence might be unclear, but that’s true of countless other statements, including many that use gender-specific pronouns.

    I’d just advise the writer to use “their” instead of “his.”

  24. 24
    lucia says:

    To a certain degree that’s right nationally (although states with higher minimum wages/ stricted ovetime laws ….

    I was reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Some union employees were discussing ways the new overtime rules affect them. Evidently, the fact that overtime need not be paid for certain jobs makes overtime a bargaining chip during pay negotiations. The impact is indirect– but negotiating position is important.

  25. 25
    mythago says:

    but if your union-negotiated salary is so close to the legal “base” that the change will make a difference, you’re likely getting screwed over by your union

    Assuming that your union has failed to negotiate anything at all other than salary, of course.

    Unions really aren’t about higher wages so much as they are about job security, a grievance process for employees, and benefits.

    They just want to KNOW.

    And under the new overtime laws, nobody really knows, even employment lawyers. But really, if they just want to know, there wouldn’t be gimmes like eliminating overtime for chefs; there would be simpler rules.

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