Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 2005 > Labor Day 2005 Edition

Labor Day 2005 Edition

It is a bitterly ironic Labor Day when the labor movement is splintered and more than half of all working Americans have either limited health insurance or none at all. And I am one of those: I love my job, but I must pay for my own doctor's visits and medication.

Work

First off, my position has been extended until the end of this year. I will still be at the Bracken for another four months.

My work on a means to extract images from the library's digital collection of architecture slides has been successful. The program I created not only extracts slide images, but inserts them with metadata (descriptive information) into a PowerPoint presentation. This program was presented to a group of interested co-workers, who were impressed with the program and suggested ways it might be improved.

One of the reasons for my extension was to assist the hardware/software technician in distributing new workstations and answering work tickets while he works on the imaging for the new workstations. By imaging I mean creating copies of hard disks for each of several models of workstation. This must be done because Gateway, our workstation supplier, has a long-time habit of sending shipments so that one shipment is of one model, another of a different model. Since Gateway is the chosen supplier for Ball State, we have had to adjust.

Anyway, the first new workstation I got to set up was my own. It took all day to do this because of Visual Studio .NET 2003. VS.NET is demanding of system configuration and resources: I had to set up IIS (the Microsoft Web server), and remove certain languages I never use at work. Yet it took all afternoon to install VS.NET, and even after that I know I have more stuff to install — esp. the mobile controls for the mobile project work. And I will have more work to do this week on other people's workstations.

Parking

My BSU parking permit expired three weeks ago. As I had no idea whether I would be rehired, I had to get a temporary parking pass, which is good for two weeks. Once I learned that my office would be extended to the rest of the year, I swapped the temporary parking pass for a real one, which will last me the whole academic year even if I don't work for BSU into 2006. A half-year one would have been better (or at least cheaper), but the parking folks don't make one available.

Caitlin Clarke Scholarship

Normally I do not say who I donate to, adhering to the saying "do not let one's left hand know what the right hand is doing". Whose business is it of anyone's whom I help? I don't even let the Feds know, partly because I never earn enough to make itemizing worthwhile, but also because as long as the Feds get their cut, how I spend my money is none of their business.

The lone exception is my donation to the Caitlin Clarke Memorial Scholarship, which gives an annual scholarship for a year at Pittsburgh's Rauh Conservatory to students aspiring to the stage. As the webmaster of The Caitlin Clarke Page, I make no secret of my support for this particular worthy cause.

Home Box

I spent all day last Sunday and Monday evening reinstalling on my home box Windows XP and its drivers, ZoneAlarm, and Symantec AntiVirus; my Web browser, e-mail client and FTP client; TextPad and HTML Validator; and several data folders.

Windows XP is a job in itself. It is not enough to install the operating system. I had to install the latest service pack, then every available update after that. I had to turn off such annoyances as Universal Plug and Play, File and Print Sharing, MSN Explorer and Windows Messenger. Messenger was a especial source of distress when the cursor began to move of its own accord — twice — before I had ZoneAlarm permanently bar it from accessing the Internet.

Most of my programs I had no problem reinstalling and configuring. I can count the exceptions as few: Thunderbird and my e-mail accounts; WS_FTP Home and a license number that was no longer effective (I had to ask Ipswitch for a new one, and they were good and quick in responding); and my trying to get Zone Alarm and Symantec AntiVirus to work together.

Today I have worked out bugs here and there. I reset the junk mail filter in Thunderbird; I reinstalled AdAware after a tracker cookie made its way onto my computer (ZoneAlarm's spyware component I turned off as ineffective); I got PHP to work with MySQL, and my blood sugar monitor program is up and running again.

I have a faster home box again. That is a good thing, and I hope this last a long time.

Oil Folly

You know, if God wills the disposal of someone, that person is gone whether you want it or not.

But what about some preacher who demands in public the murder of some dictator? The preacher may just as well let the world know that he is no longer Christian (assuming he ever was) and that the death of Christ by torture is futile. God is concerned for the good of all people, including the dictator; and unless the dictator has murdered or raped, nobody has any right to call for his death.

If you are that eager to depose this dictator, then stop buying his country's oil and deny his ships access to our ports; freeze his country's assets and close off access to our banks; deny his citizens work in our labor market (and our modeling agencies) and turn their students out of our universities. The dictator did not get where he is today without the help of his citizens, and it is his citizens who must bear the punishment of having chosen him as their leader.

Katrina

When Katrina was just a tropical storm in the Bahamas, I never thought that it would turn into a catastrophic hurricane before passing over the Mississippi delta and the shores to the east. Nobody did.

It was still hard to fathom what Katrina had done to the South, since it came to Indiana as a wave of breezes and light rain and left in a day, finally dissipating over Québec.

But there you are: New Orleans is now part of Lake Ponchartrain, and the Gulfport-Biloxi area has been scoured clean. The hurricane has also disrupted Gulf oil and gas rigs, ports and refineries: As a result gasoline prices have jumped from $2.65 to $3.19 almost immediately. Natural gas will become pricier. Oil-based plastics, fertilizers and pesticides will become pricier, which means we will pay more for food.

It promises to be a very expensive winter.

BTW, I thought I was the only one, when the hurricane first appeared, who thought about Katrina and the Waves, the 1980's pop band with Walking on Sunshine and Love Will Shine a Light. An Ars Technica poster pointed that out, and Motley Fool titled thus an article about the economic effects of the hurricane.

New Orleans

It is hard for me to feel any sympathy for the most corrupt city in the country: a city that has always been cruel to its poorest and neediest citizens: a city built on the worst place you could ever put a city for the most vile of reasons — commerce. It is hard for the rest of this moralistic country, which sees the city as the nation's jazz-honking whorehouse. It is hard even for the rest of Louisiana, which resents the city for its arrogant overdominant influence and its pilfering of the surrounding state.

Worse, the war in Iraq gave the Feds an excuse to be miserly with funds to maintain the levees and wetlands that protect the city; just as the war on terror gave them reason to hobble FEMA and make relief efforts ineffective, leaving the poor of the city to die out from hunger, disease and social breakdown. And when the poor got the opportunity to flee the city, they took it — probably never to return.

The city has proved, once for all, that it deserves no sympathy when its leaders and bourgeoisie abandoned the poor and needy, who have no means to evacuate the city, to their fate; and when, as the lake poured into the city, its officers forsook their posts as hopeless and even joined the looters.

Doubtless New Orleans will be rebuilt in some form: It is a city of commerce, after all. There needs to be an entrepôt for the Midwest's grain and some control center for the surrounding oil and gas operations, and too much capital has already been invested there.

But New Orleans as it was before Katrina is as good as dead at the bottom of the lake. Most of its poor who have gotten out will not return, and it was they who gave the city its character. Without them New Orleans is, well, a city of commerce.

I guess there will be no Mardi Gras next year.


Copyright © 2005 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 4 September 2005.