Posts Tagged Assorted Chestnuts

Sweatshops & the Dallas Cowboys

     I just happened to catch the ESPN expose on how the Dallas Cowboys have made millions using sweatshop labor.  Cambodian workers at the Suntex & Bright Sky factory of Silver Star Merchandising, work 60 hours per week making .29 cents per hour.  They are scared to go to the bathroom and always rushed, rushed, rushed with forced overtime.  According to the report, the labor practices violate the Cowboys own code of conduct.   Surprise… they can’t “see” any violations.  Maybe its because of the millions of dollars of profit made from cheap labor.  Pay low, sell high, and use contract labor to allow plausible deniability! 
     For me, the denials were not credible at all.  The cowboys, as America’s team, should be ashamed of the practice.  I’d like to see the whole corporate team sent to Cambodia for an overnight stay with the people who work in those factories.  In the morning, they could tag along to work, and even be treated like the slaves they’ve hired.
     Ohio State students have protested the licensing agreement that the school just signed with the Cowboys.  The OSU Lantern has a good story and video here.   Sweatshops are inhumane places to work and should be completely outlawed.  Sweatshops and bullying by management still occur here in America, as it does everywhere. 
     If you don’t understand what a sweatshop is, ehow.com defines it as “a factory or working environment considered by post-industrialized nations to be unacceptably dangerous for employees.  They demand long hours for little pay…  Some workers are imprisoned on the factory grounds and not free to leave to see their families.  They may have dangerous working conditions and even employ child labor.”  They all have aggressive managers who bully workers into doing their bidding.
     Wikipedia has a good list of abusive workplace behaviours.  I’ll copy them here for you to see, if your company engages in the same tactics;

  1. Disrespecting and devaluing the individual, often through disrespectful and devaluing language or verbal abuse
  2. Overwork and devaluation of personal life (particularly salaried workers who are not compensated)
  3. Harassment through micromanagement of tasks and time
  4. Over evaluation and manipulating information (for example concentration on negative characteristics and failures, setting up subordinate for failure).
  5. Managing by threat and intimidation
  6. Stealing credit and taking unfair advantage
  7. Preventing access to opportunities
  8. Downgrading an employee’s capabilities to justify downsizing
  9. Impulsive destructive behaviour
  10. Having your opinions and views ignored
  11. Withholding information which affects your performance
  12. Being exposed to an unmanageable workload
  13. Being given tasks with unreasonable or impossible targets or deadlines
  14. Being ordered to do work below competence
  15. Being ignored or facing hostility when you approach
  16. Being humiliated or ridiculed in connection with your work
  17. Excessive monitoring of your work (see micromanagement)
  18. Spreading gossip
  19. Having insulting or offensive remarks made about your person (i.e. habits and background), your attitudes or your private life 
  20. Having key areas of responsibility removed or replaced with more trivial or unpleasant tasks 

If your company or manager uses these tactics to motivate you, they may be guilty of bullying and violating established laws.  The last paragraph on Wikipedia says this about the legality, ” Although most U.S. states operate primarily under the doctrine of at-will employment (which, in theory, allows an employer to fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all), American workers have gained significant legal leverage through discrimination and harassment laws, workplace safety laws, union-protection laws. etc., such that it is illegal under federal and most states’ laws to fire employees for many reasons. For example, these employment laws typically forbid retaliation for good faith complaints or the exercise of legal rights such as the right to organize a union. Discrimination and harassment laws enable employees to sue for creating a “hostile work environment,” which can include bullying, but the bullying/hostility usually is tied in some way to a characteristic protected under the discrimination/harassment law, such as race, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc”

     As for the Dallas Cowboy’s merchandise, I wouldn’t buy any until they stop using sweatshop labor.  The same would go for Ohio State merchandise if they have signed a contract with the same company.  American businessmen need to understand how greed hurts people!  People are made in the image of God!  Not only that, I believe He may question your choice of poor employee treatment for gain.  I believe the King James called it “filthy lucre”.

Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols. You can be sure that people who behave in this way will never be part of the kingdom that belongs to Christ and to God. Ephesians 5:5

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On Mormons & Mitt Romney

   

     It’s in all the news, and so is everything else you are supposed to believe.  Willard Mitt Romney is the front runner and the probable nominee of the Republican party for President of the United States.  I don’t think he is the front runner and I hope he isn’t the nominee for President.  Mitt has several problems in my book.  First, he’s in the liberal wing of the party.  He can’t get around it, no matter how many promises he makes that those beliefs(pro-abortion, big government, etc) are a thing of the past.  Hey, he was just endorsed by Senator John McCain, another liberal guy!  Furthermore, former President George H. W. Bush has also endorsed Mr. Romney.  You probably remember both Bush’s were NWO(new world order) guys, so that is not a true conservative endorsement!  To most conservatives, those endorsements alone, would rule Mitt Romney out!

     Romney’s other serious problem is that he is a member of the Mormon church.  Most people don’t know what the Mormon’s preach and believe.  A Mormon co-worker and I had many conversations early in my career, as he tried to convert me over to his “one true faith”.  The Mormons believe they have the one true church and will be blessed by God in the next life.  A film released in the early 80’s called “the Godmakers” revealed the previously guarded secret teachings of the church.  A short overview is here, and would be a good 6 minute investment on your part.  The full video, also worth watching but 55 minutes long is here.  Mormons call themselves Christians, but the differences in mainstream Christian teachings are significant. 

      Mormons believe & teach…
The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price are ALL sacred texts.
That the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct beings but are one in purpose.
The Heavenly Father(God) has a physical body.
Jesus Christ HAS a physical body and had multiple wives.
There is a second chance for salvation after death.
That these Sacraments are necessary, baptism, confirmation, Lord’s Supper, laying on of hands, ordination, temple endowment, and marriage sealing.
That faithful members, after death, are placed on various planets with their spirit wives.  There, they make spirit babies and populate the planet.
Fundamentalist Mormons practice having a plurality of wives(polygamy).

     There is a good website called Saints Alive in Jesus.  They are mostly ex-Mormons who feel the need to reach out to “those lost in Mormonism and other cults”.  Their resource library has an article by Rauni Higley entitled, “Why I, as a former Mormon, would not vote for Mitt Romney“.  It is hard hitting and is a must read for all those contemplating support for Mitt Romney! 

     I can’t think of a better Bible verse to leave you with than Galatians 1:8…
But should we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

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Fracking Crazy!

     Fracking has become very popular these days.  Just in case you don’t know, fracking is the process of drilling into the earth’s rock layer and using hydraulic pressure, creating a fissure to allow the release of underground gas or oil.  The process is very controversial because ground water contamination seems to oftentimes be the result.  But where money is to be made, environmental and health issues are usually overlooked or ignored(think FDA). 

     In December, Rick Perry even surprised everyone by bringing up the topic in an Iowa town hall meeting.  He claimed there is “no proof that fracking causes groundwater pollution“.  There were actually objections from the audience.  Rick isn’t necessarily a bastion of concern for others, as in the case of the mandatory vaccinations he wanted to force upon young girls in the state of Texas.  The Gardasil vaccine made by Merck has a history of side effects including death.  Mr. Perry had some deep ties with Merck according to this article.  So as usual, you have to follow the money trail and be as skeptical as possible.  I believe most of our politicians are corrupt anyway, which is the very reason I’m supporting Ron Paul this year. 

     Some states are beginning to wake up to the environmental dangers of fracking.  Starting April 1, oil and gas companies in Colorado will be required to disclose the chemicals used and the concentrations of each.  Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Texas all have disclosure laws but that still doesn’t do anything to end the practice altogether.  It is so odd to me that our government can preach green standards but drop aluminum and barium through chemtrails, then allow drilling to place chemicals in our groundwater!  Even the EPA is beginning to question fracking in a report issued December 8, 2011 from a Wyoming fracking site.  That report linked hydraulic fracturing in Wyoming to ground water contamination. 

     Another danger, one possibly far more serious, is the question posed by many who live near fracking wells.  Does hydraulic fracking cause earthquakes?  Now, before you reject this entirely, think about all the recent earthquakes in the news.  There are usually several each day and they often can be traced to a fracking well being nearby.  For instance, I follow Dutchsince on his YouTube channel.  He has a great method of getting the coordinates of earthquakes off the USGS page then putting them in Google Earth to zoom in to that location.  Look at this, it’s a good example

     Obviously, not every earthquake is manmade, but it seems to me that many are.  How can we be good stewards, who take care of our earthly home and still allow such an evil process?  I believe God created the earth and that we should not destroy it.  We are supposed to take care of it and thereby allow it to nourish us!  I like the “leave no trace” principle while hiking.  Many outdoor enthusiast practice it.  When you hike a trail or visit a park, it should be like it was, or better when you leave.  It certainly should be no worst!  Reminds me of a quote by Daniel Webster, “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”

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You’ve Come A Long Way Baby

Yes, I’m an employee of AT&T and the following is my opinion.

   

     It’s difficult to know where to start with this one.  I was surfing around the web last night and came across a story from Cnet about AT&T.  It seems that AT&T was rated the worst cell phone carrier for the second year in a row.   The funny thing is, according to the article, AT&T still added 2.1 million new subscribers just in the third quarter alone.  Does that mean that people just don’t care about poor service?  Are the numbers wrong?  Did they only call the unhappy ones?  Or, just the ones whose calls were dropped?  We’ll probably never know the actual truth.  However, it might be a good time to have a short history lesson…

     Here is the funny & famous video by Stephen Colbert about all the telecom mergers creating the one network again.  I laugh every time I watch it.  A much more detailed look at the evolution of the current behemoth is this article form Wikipedia.  Most of us forget about all the regional phone companies and the fact that Southwestern Bell Corporation is the one that came out on top with the AT&T brand.  I found it interesting looking at their history and their efforts to purchase Cox Cable and later Comcast.

     AT&T’s December 29, 2006 acquisition of Bellsouth Telecommunications was my first company change in twenty eight years.  I became an employee of AT&T and am still working each day to make my customers happy, just like in the old Bellsouth days.

     BellSouth was known for good customer service.  They won the J.D. Power customer satisfaction surveys in 1996, 1997,1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, & 2006.  The 2006 award stated Bellsouth “leads all carriers in majority of customer satisfaction factors”.  We were proud of it and the company printed it on our trucks.  We are all customers of someone and we all know when we’ve been treated badly.  I appreciate having worked for a company that placed their customers on such a high regard.

     I would like to tell you why I believe that service has gone downhill somewhat, but my opinion would serve no purpose nor would any large company listen.  There are those of us who remember the good old days and make an effort to please.  Hopefully all the mergers and buyouts will be over soon and companies will refocus their efforts on good customer service.  Till then, hang on…

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The Ideal Christmas Gift

     I’ve got a great idea!  It hit me today while driving to work…  The economy is horrible.  It’s so bad that folks are occupying wall street in protest.  Unless you’re a CEO, it’s a struggle to make ends meet.  Everybody could use a little more cash.  Christmas is coming like a freight train downhill…   Santa will be here soon, what are we going to give for presents? 

     Okay, here we go.  What if we all gave cash this year for presents?  Now, before you utterly reject the idea, let’s look at the pros and cons.

     First of all, the downside would be for the smaller children.  I suppose they would probably be disappointed.  It might cause them some kind of Christmas phobia they could never overcome…  one more thing to blame their parents for.   Or it could just push them over the edge, which of course might be funny…

 So right off, let’s exclude them.  Children get presents!  

     Who does that leave… just everybody else!  We’ve only excluded a small group with toys.   You’ve still got your family, friends, fellow employees, garbage men and the paper boy. 
So, any more downside to giving cash?  Nope!

      What about the pros?  There are lots!  You won’t have to search through the mall hunting through overpriced gifts and being sneezed on by sick people!  You don’t have to worry about what to buy your Aunt Anna or Uncle Stephen, everybody likes cash!  And think about this, the guacamole bowl wouldn’t go with Aunt Anna’s kitchen anyway.  She would just take it back, so you even saved her a trip back to the store.  Let’s face it, returning any gift can be a hassle.  It takes time standing in line along with gasoline for the trip.  Plus, you don’t have to deal with those store employees who have bad attitudes.  So far, cash looks like a great choice.

     Lets look at the political and economic side for a minute.  As I said earlier, the economy stinks and it isn’t going to get better soon.  Christmas is just another opportunity for big business to stick it to you one more time.  They take your good cash(and they want it bad) and swap you that for cheap guacamole bowls from Mexico made with radiated plastic chunks of oil that aren’t good for you!  Let’s cut out the middleman and wrap up the cash this year.  Tell your local businesses they haven’t helped you this year, so your charity is a little weak too.  I’ve been waiting all year for some company to announce lower prices to help consumers—IT HASN’T HAPPENED!  They have to meet wall street expectations.  Sales are off so prices have gone UP!  Well, all that merchandise they’re stocked up on for Christmas, if it isn’t sold… guess what?  It gets discounted after Christmas!  Cha-Ching, there is your deep discount! 

     Hopefully, it isn’t just the people you give gifts of cash that are enjoying those discounts!  Make sure you pass the work around that YOU WANT CASH 2!  Think about all the savings we’re going to enjoy!

     Now, we can’t leave this idea without focusing on the amount just a little.  You don’t want to annoy anyone with an amount that they feel didn’t equal the guacamole bowl.  With inflation, I suppose twenty dollars would be a decent gift for anyone other than a close relative.  Those Ben Franklin notes would be good for those who are close to you($100.00).  And remember, you can always multiply accordingly!  Isn’t this going to be fun?!

    

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Shelby Iron Fall Festival

    
     Saturday, Judy & I visited the fall festival at Shelby Iron Park near Colubiana, Alabama.  Shelby is an area with a rich history, especially during the Civil War era.  It is located about five miles south of Columbiana on Shelby county highway 47.  An earlier blog about the confederate cemetery nearby ties in well.  That blog is here.
    
     Horace Ware built a rolling mill here in 1860.  It became Alabama’s major supplier of Confederate iron.  The mill and furnace were destroyed in 1865 by union troops under the command of Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson.  After winning the Battle of Nashville, union forces had little opposition to conduct operations.  Wilson’s raid captured five fortified cities and destroyed furnaces at Shelby, Tannehill, Oxmoor, Irondale, and Brierfield.  A short summary is here

     The Shelby furnace was rebuilt along with rail service in 1869.  The tracks to the east are now mostly removed or under the water of Lay Lake from the construction of Alabama Power’s first dam on the Coosa River.  It was originally the Lock 12 Dam.  It was renamed Lay dam in 1929.  The rail tracks to the west(Calera) are owned by Dixie Railroad.  There are plans to eventually rebuild the Waxahatchee bridge to allow for passenger service back to Shelby.  Funding has not been obtained though.

     Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the pictures and a little history.

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Crime Scene or Darwin Award?

     Just happened to come across this scene today in Columbiana, Alabama.  I thought at first it was just asleep in the parking lot.  When it didn’t move with my truck parking so close, I assumed the worst.

     My investigative instincts kicked in and I immediately began looking at this as a crime scene.  Did the murder take place elsewhere and the face covered out of guilt?  Was the can laced with strong poison, so strong the cat didn’t even have time to get it’s head out?

     I looked around the area for clues.  Found a good one about fifty feet away at the back of a nearby building…

     I now believe our victim was dumpster diving and found what seemed to be good leftovers.  Alas, it was to be his last meal…

     We’ll never know how this awful tragedy actually took place without proper forensics.  In the mean time, pick up your garbage and guard your kitties!  Eating Chef Boyardee… your call!

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Be a Barabbas!

     Prisons are wretched places!  They are dark, smelly, and filthy.  Usually, they are just places where you wait to die.  Minutes seem like days and weeks like years.  I had decided that death might be a release from the nightmare and wondered when my time would come!

     Each time I heard guards walking, I thought, “this is it”.  Finally… it was.  The door opened and a Roman guard hurried in.  He came over, took off my chains and said, “let’s go”!  We walked up toward the light, the outside, and I thought  back over my life… again!  My reflections were interrupted by the bright light of sunshine as I blocked my eyes.  The guard released my shoulder and said, “go on, you’re free”!

     Free?  I was about to die!  How could this be?

     My mind was reeling…  I saw a man being scourged, but I didn’t know him!  Suddenly, friends surrounded me, hugging and clapping.  It seemed too good to be true!  My freedom, I discovered later, was at an awful price.  A price I can never pay back!  Jesus of Nazereth, the man that I’d heard was the Messiah, took my place!  I was guilty… but He was the one who died!

     Well, I had to find out more about this Jesus.  I found one of his disciples who seemed all to eager to talk.  He revealed that Jesus had the power to do wonderful things!  I know now that he made a blind man see, and even raised people from the dead!  The disciple tole me how he had calmed a storm and even walked on water!  He could cast out demons and feed thousands with a small boy’s lunch.  I talked to others, many others, who told me the same types of things.  They said he talked like no Rabbi ever had.  Jesus spoke with authority and could answer any question the scribes and religious leaders raised.

     Problem was, Jesus was just too much for the Sanhedrin.  They arrested him and brought him to Pilate to be crucified.  Pilate gave the people a choice between me and Jesus of Nazareth.  Can you imagine that?  The choice wasn’t between who deserved to die and who didn’t!  I was guilty but Jesus had done nothing wrong.

     I’m just pretending to be Barabbas.  Although, symbolically, we all are.  Jesus died in place of every person alive today and everyone who’s ever lived! 

     2000 years later, God still issues an invitation of salvation through His Son Jesus.  Freedom from the dark bondage of sin and servitude to Satan.  1Peter 2:9 says, You should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  If you’ve obeyed the gospel, you walked out of that dark prison into the light of the Son just like Barabbas!  Jesus said in John 8:36, If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

     But the joy is bittersweet.  There are other souls still in the dungeon.  We need to let freedom ring!  Ring out the message of Christ on a cross and the blood that washes clean and lights the way home to a loving Father.  They too can one day behold the man who willingly took their place!

     This was our oldest son’s 9th grade speech in a church competition in Nashville, Tennessee.  He won 1st place with a flawless delivery.  I was looking through old speeches tonight and thought it very appropriate for us today!

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Alabama National Cemetery

    The Alabama National Cemetery is located on Highway 119 in Montevallo, next to American Village.  There are over 9,000 burial spaces, 999 in-ground cremation sites, and 2,700 columbarium niches.  The 45 acre site includes an administration and public information center complex with an electronic gravesite locator.  There are public restrooms, a cemetery entrance area, a flag assembly area, a memorial walkway and two committal shelters for funeral services.  Visitation hours are sunrise to sunset.

     We decided to visit on Memorial Day.  It is about a ten minute drive from the Alabaster’s I-65 exit.  The landscaping is very nice and the grounds clean.

     I was reminded of Psalm 23.
   The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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Memorial Day Thoughts

     Tomorrow is May 30, 2011, Memorial Day.  History says it started in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865.  There, a large crowd of former slaves declared a “Decoration Day” at a graveyard of 257 Union soldiers.  The event was publicized and the organization for the Northern Civil War Veterans called for events to be held nationwide.  May 30th was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any battle.
Northern states adoped the practice quickly while southern states had their own decoration days on various dates.  The term “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882.  Supposedly, it became the preferred name only after World War II.  In 1968, Congress passed a law moving the holiday to the last Monday in May, thereby creating a three-day weekend.  This year, the holiday falls on the original date.
    
     It is a specific day for remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in dying for their country.  I join with others in remembering them and appreciating the liberties we’ve enjoyed because of their deaths!  It is also a sad rememberance as well, for those who died unnecessarily. in frivolous military operations!  The war in Vietnam comes quickly to mind.  Our leaders have not always had the lives of military men and women in the forefront of their concerns.  Many were considered expendable for political and commercial endeavours. which were not threats to our national livelihood.
   
     Indeed today, we are at threat more from within than without.  The Patriot Act and other legislation have removed many of the freedoms we enjoy.  The Constitution we all hold dear has been twisted and misused against us!  The Presidency is slowly becoming a dictatorship.  The American public is like a frog in a pan of boiling water, we didn’t jump because the heat came up slowly.  We’ve been cooked alive!

     I often wonder what the founding fathers could have done differently to save us, here in 2011.  Term limits has always been the answer I arrive at first.  Congressmen like the money and power their office brings.  If their terms in office were limited, their temptations to sell out the citizens would also be limited. 

     But I believe the greatest help would have been acknowledging God and establishing religious freedom more explicitly, with protections.  We have allowed atheist to change the rules one by one, till God has been pushed out of government!  Our Founding Fathers never intended that!  Patrick Henry, who most only remember for “give me liberty or give me death” had a lot more to say, even in that quote.  Let me expand it a little for you,   “It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. … Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things, which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. … Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”  

     Patrick Henry also opposed approving the U.S. constitution for fear the  centralized federal government would take too much power.  He advocated states rights, a position I would join in with him today!  Our government is slowly taking over every aspect of our lives.  Neither major political party will reign it in.  They support the beast and the power it gives them!

     I’ll end with another quote from Mr. Henry,   “Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of freemen. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”
     

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