First, read this if you missed it last week.
The bill to repeal Wisconsin's equal-pay-for-equal-work law was introduced in the state Senate last September by Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) of West Bend, a small city northeast of Milwaukee. (The link takes you to his web page, which includes his email address, his snail mail address, his telephone and fax numbers, plus his office address in Madison. Just in case, ya know, you wanted to let him know your feelings on the matter.) It was passed in the Senate with the vote coming down -- predictably -- along party lines; the same thing happened in the state Assembly last month.
Of course, there are still federal laws on discrimination and equal pay, etc., but this bill makes it impossible to file a wage discrimination suit in state court. A petitioner will now have to file in (an overburdened) federal court. Says State Senator Tammy Baldwin here,
"It is much easier for somebody who's been unfairly compensated to gain access to a state court than a federal court...It is something that if you want these laws to have meaning, they have to be enforceable. So I'm very disappointed with the Wisconsin state legislature. Yet another big step back for women. This is becoming a real pattern."
As far as I can tell, there are exactly two (2!) federal courts in the state of Wisconsin, one in Milwaukee (a seven hour drive from where I live) and one in Madison (a six-hour drive). There are 69 state courts in Wisconsin, one in all but three counties: the one in my county is exactly 6.7 (highway) miles away. That tells you how easy or difficult it is to file a wage discrimination suit this month vs. last month.
Hmmmph. If these people want to live in a Third World country*, why don't they MOVE to a Third World county... instead of trying to remake my state into one.
*I was going to suggest Mississippi, but that would have been unfair to Mississippi.
Edited to add: The federal law, The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (1963! I bet a number of you were not even born yet in 1963!), says this:
"No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions..."
"On February 21st, in a stunning move, Assembly Republicans voted to repeal Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Act... Assembly Republicans repealed the law that ensured that women cannot get paid less than a man for doing the same job. Women in Wisconsin still only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men."
-From a newsletter put out by the state assemblyman from the Racine area.
I could not believe this when I read it. But it is true. Welcome to 1952, or maybe 1902.
If you are a woman or are married to one or have daughters and were thinking of moving to Wisconsin, you may want to think again.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple weeks -- or have been offline, which is, frankly, more likely than any of you actually dwelling beneath boulders --
which led to any number of reactions, ranging from concerned to outraged:
And best of all for our citizenry at large
Remember Google's original motto, "Don't be evil"?
Apparently that is true for only certain Google-defined values of evil.
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In the interest of calming everyone the f*** down, here is a Lifehacker post showing one way to keep your Google browsing history to yourself. There are several good ideas in that article; many and more thanks to Chris for including it in her regular Friday linkety post.
Undoubtedly libraries are a good thing. The access and training that we provide for technology isn't offered by any other public service (largely because public services are rapidly becoming a dirty word in this gilded age of decadence and austerity), and without our services it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would be a significant dimming.
If you can take yourself out of your first world techie social media smart-shoes for a second then imagine this: you're 53 years old, you've been in prison from 20 to 26, you didn't finish high school, and you have a grandson who you're now supporting because your daughter is in jail. You're lucky, you have a job at the local Wendy's. You have to fill out a renewal form for government assistance which has just been moved online as a cost saving measure (this isn't hypothetical, more and more municipalities are doing this now). You have a very limited idea of how to use a computer, you don't have Internet access, and your survival (and the survival of your grandson) is contingent upon this form being filled out correctly.
Do you go to the local social services office? No, you don't. The overworked staff there says that due to budget cuts they can no longer do walk-in advising, and that there's a 2 week waiting list to get assistance with filling out forms. You call them up on the by-the-minute phone you're borrowing from your cousin (wasting 15 of her minutes on hold) and they say that they can't help, but you can go to your public library. OK, so you go to your public library after work (you ask your other cousin to watch your grandson for the day since wasting those minutes has temporarily burned some bridges). Due to budget cuts the library no longer has evening hours, sorry, try again (and you also don't get back the bus-fare or money you spent on a hack to get across town to the nearest branch, since other budget cuts closed the one in your neighborhood). OK, so you come back on the weekend. You ask the overworked librarian at the desk to sign up for a computer. She testily tells you that you're at the wrong desk, and that sign-ups are at circulation. You feel foolish and go over to the circulation desk, who tells you that you need to sign up for a library card to use the computer. After filling out the forms the librarian starts to make your card for you, and informs you that she can't process a card, since you have fines from 2 years ago that total fifty dollars. It's an emergency, you say, you need to use the computer. She sighs heavily, informs you that it's against policy, and then prints a guest pass anyway. You get 30 minutes at a time for a total of 2 hours per day. Computers are on the second floor.
You go up to the second floor to find a total of 20 computers with a waiting list of 15 people. You do some quick math in your head, and realize you're probably going to be here for a while, so you walk over to the magazine section, and read People while you wait. Finally, it's your turn. You walk over to your terminal, and your time starts ticking. Your breath seizes in your chest, and you realize you have no idea what to do. You have the form that they gave you at the social services office, which has an address, which you sort of know what that does, but you can't quite remember – 17 minutes, by the way. You try typing X City Social Services in a box at the top, a page comes back and says “address not found” with a list of things below it. You're panicking, because there's a line forming (there always is) and the library will probably close before you can make it back on – 10 minutes, by the way. After a little more fumbling and clicking you have no luck, you're kicked off, and immediately someone is standing behind you to use your computer. You relinquish your seat, and head back down stairs. You're about to leave, already trying to think of who you know who has a computer who might let you use it, and might know about filling out these forms, but the only person you can think of is your friend in the county, and taking a bus out there would be awfully expensive.
Before leaving you decide to try one last thing. You go up to the desk, and explain your situation. The tired, overworked person at the desk nods along, and says, “well, we're not supposed to do this, but...” and tells you to walk around the desk. With a few clicks on the mouse they have the site up that you spent 30 minutes trying to find. They bring up the electronic form, politely turn their head aside as you fill in your social security number, and then ask you a series of questions to satisfy the demands of the form. It comes to your email address, and you have to admit that you don't have one, so the librarian walks you through setting up a free one and gives it to you on a slip of paper. “We have free computer classes,” he says (and you're lucky, because a great deal of public libraries don't), but you look at the times and realize that between your job and taking care of your grandson you'd never be able to attend, and it'd probably be too hard anyway. You thank him, and he smiles, and you leave. Congratulations, you've staved off disaster until the next time you need to use a computer for a life-essential task.
Now let's start that again, but this time you don't speak English. Just kidding, I don't want to give you too much culture shock in one day.
I have shortened this a bit. It was written by codacorolla, a library school student and library worker, in a thread responding to the fact that a large amount of state funding was recently cut from California libraries.
Doctors are human beings, and like the rest of us, do not like to talk about bad things. It may be up to us to ask them the hard questions. Like, Can this come back? Exactly what are the chances? What should I watch for?
I have mentioned before how much I love my Signature circs. The points are perfect, the needle tips are smaller than many and thus fit my smallish hands perfectly, and the cables are incredibly flexible.
But not indestructible.
When the cable broke I immediately went to the Signature website to see if the needles had a lifetime guarantee. Nope, only a 21-day return policy if a needle appeared to be defective. Still, in my mind a $40 needle ought to have some sort of guarantee, so I emailed the company and got this response:
Thank you for contacting us. I have attached a prepaid shipping label for the return of the defective needle. Please fill out the attached form and include the RMA# in your package. You do not need to fill out the payment information as there is no charge associated with this. Thank you for your continued support of our product and I apologize for any inconvenience.
I wrote back:
Thank you! I will mail the needle back tomorrow.
I have defended the high price of Signature needles on my blog, saying that they are made in the US, probably by union labor, so their manufacturing cost is higher than those made in China or Bangladesh or some other third world country. Was I correct? In any case, I will also blog about your excellent customer service.
What was even better was the email I received this morning from Cathryn Bothe, the president of the company (reprinted here with her permission):
I see all the emails and wanted to personally answer yours.
Signature is the “child” of our 62 year old US manufacturing company. Bothe Associates Inc (www.bothe.com) has been making high tolerance metal products since 1950.
When Signature was starting up we bought samples of many of the cheap “box store” needles and were beyond shocked to see their tolerances were horrible, that is, if you thought you were getting a US 7 needle which is a 4.500 mm size you could be off by a large amount. There were even differences from one in a pair to the 2nd. Then we cut them open to see what metal was being used. That, too, was a real surprise.
We know what the cross section of a bar of aluminum should look like but what we saw was astonishing. We think they threw many scraps of various alloys into a furnace and came up with a mess but one that could be covered with the anodizing. We even found one that was sort of powdery. I had them stop working with that and put the pieces in a Hazmat bag.
We also know that only 1/3 of the zillions of Chinese have good drinking water. Some of that is because they just throw any excess or used chemicals literally, in some cases, out the back door. We have had people here who have traveled to the big manufacturing centers in China who say the air is so bad it looks like heavy fog.
And then..there are the workers: Being a student of history I know that many mill towns in the East in the 1800’s employed young women who came from their poor rural families with the hope of earning hard cash but were exploited along with children. You don’t have to read much to see that is exactly what is happening in China. Even worse is that the “low cost” manufacturers are moving to India or Thailand where they can get even cheaper labor!
Here at Signature we pay US wages and healthcare and unemployment taxes. We provide a clean, well lit, air conditioned factory. I know every person and for many a lot about their families. We even found someone to sew our bags in Milwaukee.
Our processes are controlled by OSHA and EPA. Any water that leaves the plant where the anodizing is done must be cleaner than when it came in the building. We go so far as to collect any “drippings” of coolant and oil (needed for machining metals) from the chips that are made. We then send the barrel when filled for proper disposition (at a cost of almost $1000.00) but we don’t let it soak into the ground. Actually we have the chip hoppers inside and should they have even a pin prick leak we have grates on the floor that collect the drips and pump into that barrel.
Every single needle is hand polished on the point. I know the people who do it and would [not] allow any scrimping. I
I am proud to say that our products are made here. Yes they certainly do cost more but we are making steady, secure jobs for the families of those that work here. I know that the company could make more money if the needles were made abroad but I won’t do it. They know I mean it when I say that I will go out of business before I go to China.
I know it seems like I am rambling but I wanted you to know a bit more of the background.
In this world of often shoddy workmanship and indifferent customer service and help lines staffed by (admittedly hard-working) people who perhaps cannot speak English as well as one might hope, I cannot let this incident go unrecognized. I love a bargain as much as the next person, but products manufactured in such a way as to degrade the earth and abuse its people are not bargains.*
I salute this company, its products, and its people.
Now, to put my money where my mouth is, I shall offer an incentive to y'all. Mention this incident on your own blog and provide a link both to this post and to the Signature site and I will put your name into a hat. Winner will receive the skein of Twisted fingering weight that I got in my mailbox a few days ago. If you have ever attempted to buy Twisted yarn, you know what a sacrifice this is :-)
You can see it on the Twisted site here -- scroll down to Netherfield Self-Striping Yarn. The colors in my photo are more accurate, on my monitor at least.
Deadline is, oh, um, let's see, Sunday, February 11, midnight CST. Blog away, people, and think about buying some Signature needles!
(You might say that this contest is a bit self-serving, in that it will draw people to my blog. To that I say, And your point is...?)
* I did a tiny bit of research. Knitters Review says that Addi needles are made in Germany, Knit Picks are made in India, Crystal Palace in Japan, and Lantern Moon in Vietnam. Hya Hya needles are made in China. Presumably the inexpensive needles found at Wal-Mart and Michael's and Joanne's are the ones Ms. Bothe refers to in her letter and are probably made in China, as well.
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program.
Every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world.
The librarians need 5,083 5,074 5,073* more signatures on this petition…
* The first number was how many more signatures were needed when I first went to the website. Between then and when I went back after verifying my account via email, 9 more people had signed. Then I did.
What is it? This is a screen capture of Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board's webcam feed of their personnel verifying the one million (ONE MILLION!) signatures on the Recall Walker petitions. (You may not remember, but the number of signature required for a gubernatorial recall election was 540,000 and change. We blew that out of the water.)
Yeah, it's kinda like watching paint dry, but at the same time it is thrilling.
Take this quiz at the Pew Research Center site and report your results in the comments. There are only 13 questions and the whole thing will probably take you less than a minute.
From the email wherein I found this quiz:
"This is a terrific and reasonably easy 13-question test. And it shows results in a number of ways. It clearly indicates that the majority of Americans don't have a clue about what's going on in the world. No wonder our politicians take such advantage of us. It's astonishing that so many people got less than half right. These results say that 80% of the (voting) public doesn't have a clue, and that's pretty scary.
"There are no tricks here - just a simple test to see if you are current on your information. This is quite good and the results are shocking.
"I believe it was Winston Churchill who opined that ' . . . the biggest argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter . . .' "
p.s. I got one wrong.
Learn more about it, and what you can do MONDAY and TUESDAY here.
Found here. Emphasis mine.
I hate to keep harping on this, but whatever happened to free speech? Sure, The Powers That Be may not like the protesters and their message, but most of said protesters are not hurting anything. They are only trying to have their voices be heard. I have very, very mixed feelings (that I will not go into here) about demonstrations that interrupt the normal flow of daily life. Peaceful demonstrations that just ARE, are another matter.
Last week there was a small meeting at Mozilla to discuss SOPA, the Internet Censorship Bill. It was eerie. The DC groups were practically screaming, "this bill is the worst we've ever seen and we can't stop it" -- while everyone else had barely heard of it. The consensus? We needed to wake people up.Well, yesterday the Internet woke up. *You* woke the internet up.Check out these numbers and screenshots. To everyone who wrote their rep, made calls, posted to Twitter and Facebooks -- and especially to everyone who ran the modal and blacked out their logos, you are courageous and you made history yesterday. You just took the first step to combine the web's largest sites, its strongest communities, its staunchest defenders and billions of users into and unbeatable force for stopping censorship. The scary part? We still might lose. Though growing fast, our coalition still isn't strong enough. The bill is backed by an unholy alliance of Hollywood, its unions, drug companies, and the Chamber of Commerce. They are pouring money into it, and they've been working on this for years. Yesterday, big players like Tumblr, Mozilla, Reddit, BoingBoing, and even 4chan came out strong on our side. Now it's your turn. We've got to dig in and go viral. Can you add a "Stop Censorship" message to your blog, Tumblr, Facebook, or Youtube pages? Click here for the code.
Last week there was a small meeting at Mozilla to discuss SOPA, the Internet Censorship Bill.
It was eerie. The DC groups were practically screaming, "this bill is the worst we've ever seen and we can't stop it" -- while everyone else had barely heard of it. The consensus? We needed to wake people up.
Well, yesterday the Internet woke up. *You* woke the internet up.
To everyone who wrote their rep, made calls, posted to Twitter and Facebooks -- and especially to everyone who ran the modal and blacked out their logos, you are courageous and you made history yesterday. You just took the first step to combine the web's largest sites, its strongest communities, its staunchest defenders and billions of users into and unbeatable force for stopping censorship.
The scary part? We still might lose. Though growing fast, our coalition still isn't strong enough.
The bill is backed by an unholy alliance of Hollywood, its unions, drug companies, and the Chamber of Commerce. They are pouring money into it, and they've been working on this for years. Yesterday, big players like Tumblr, Mozilla, Reddit, BoingBoing, and even 4chan came out strong on our side. Now it's your turn. We've got to dig in and go viral.
If you ran "Stop Censorship" or the "Contact Congress" splash on your page yesterday, we humbly ask you to keep it running until this bill is dead, and to find more people who can. We understand if you can't, but the bill is just as bad as it was yesterday -- so we've got to ask.
Yesterday was amazing. There will be more, we promise.
Fight for the Future
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Speaking of censorship, here is a Salon article about saving some of the 5,000 books confiscated by the NYPD. (Was confiscating the books censorship? Discuss among yourselves.)
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Edited to highlight CarrieK's comment from below: "Those would be bills: S 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 -A bill to prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property, and for other purposes and H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act."
Email from #1 Son at 4:16 this morning (emphasis mine):
From what I can gather from talking to people barricaded off a block from Zuccotti and what I've read since getting home, hundreds and hundreds of cops came and massed around 1 a.m. They moved into the park and physically cut it off from the outside world. They arrested people and then made them stand and watch while they destroyed the encampment and threw all the tents into dumpsters. They tear gassed the kitchen. They trashed the library and threw five thousand books in the garbage. They beat and arrested New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez. They attacked peaceful demonstrators with a sound cannon. The cops wore riot gear which would protect them from hypothetical assault, though the only violence and coercion in sight was their own. Afterwards they sawed down trees and brought bulldozers into the park. I've never seen so many cops. I asked one if any crime had been committed and got no answer. I told him that I'd seen no crime committed, that all I'd seen were Americans exercising their First Amendment rights, and he agreed and then kept following orders. They were so confident of the rightness of their cause that they attacked in the dead of night and confined reporters to a press pen.
Yes, Zuccotti Park was messy. Democracy can be messy.
Only a police state (or maybe Denmark or the Netherlands, neither of which is a police state) is completely tidy.
Occupy Berlin, London, Raleigh, Minneapolis, Knoxville, Orlando, Melbourne, Dame Steet (Dublin), Montreal, Vancouver, Beursplein (Netherlands). Iowa City, Des Moines, Seattle, Los Angeles, Riverside (CA), Cedar Falls (IA), Santa Fe, La Crosse (WI), Las Vegas, Occupay Together (San Diego), Fort Lauderdale, Occupy Plaza Mayor (Madrid), Detroit, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, St. Louis. (I got that list of cities at CNN.)
Gee, do you think there might be a groundswell here?
Of course the police moved in and cleared out the protesters in so many cities. Leaving them there was a constant reminder of the failure of Wall Street and Washington and the regulators who were supposed to protect us.
Live stream: http://www.livestream.com/occupynyc
From CNN this morning:
New York (CNN) -- A New York judge issued an order Tuesday morning allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return to Zuccotti Park, just hours after scores of police in riot gear ordered them out and tore down their tents...
The order from New York Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings allows protesters to bring tents and other equipment back into the privately-owned park where the now-global Occupy movement began...
City officials had intended to allow protests to resume at the park, but said they would not allow demonstrators to set up tents or camp. The park will remain closed until officials sort out the legal situation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said...
The operation to clear the park began around 1 a.m., according to Bloomberg...
Police in riot gear then moved into the park, evicting hundreds of protesters...
Continuing concerns about public health and safety and the impact of the protests on nearby businesses, as well as the rights of others to use the park, prompted city officials to dismantle the camp...
The air was thick with smoke, which some protesters said was from tear gas that officers lobbed. thers said officers took thousands of books from the camp's makeshift library and tossed them in Dumpsters...
CNN could not confirm those accounts, as police kept journalists a block and a half away from the park during the raid. However, CNN was able to obtain footage of piles of clothing, tents and tarps made by police as they cleaned out the park.
Jeremy Baratta, a 32-year-old Army veteran, called the health concerns that authorities cited a pretext.
"It was fairly clean," he said of the park. "No urine or fecal matter. There weren't things strewn about."
Many of the protestors reassembled at Foley Park near City Hall.
It is deja vu back to the 60s all over again. Did the protests of the 60s end the Vietnam war? Did they even cause it to end sooner than it might have? Who knows?
But did those protests change our country? Yes, indeed they did.
Will that happen again? Who knows?
I for one am looking forward to seeing what happens next...
(I am a little disjointed this morning -- can you tell? Between worrying about #1 Son and attempting to write a speech for the county board meeting tonight, all while attending the annual 2-day tax conference, my brain is spread thin...)
American corporations have taken a beating recently. We’ve been accused of everything from buying elections to subverting the Constitution to being puppet-masters of the Supreme Court.
To these charges we say: Well, duh.
-- From The Borowitz Report, October 27, 2011.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
Go read all thirteen here*. You will like it. Promise.
Found via martinimade.com
* While you are there, check out the list of authors who support the occupation, people like William Gibson and Salmon Rushdie and Alice Walker and Neil Gaiman amd Emma Donaghue and Peter Straub and Gloria Steinem and and Sara Paretsky and Ann Patchett and Jonathan Lethem and Maxine Hong Kingston and Donna Tartt and Barbara Ehrenreich.
"We took Times Square today, 15,000 people or something. You know those news tickers they have out front of some of the buildings in Times Square? A great big cheer went up from the crowd when one ran the headline, 'OccupyWall Street protesters take Times Square.' "
-- email from #1 Son, Saturday night