John Henry, et. al.

As the whatever you want to call this continues, those of us who can are accessing our back files (the “way back” in my case) on American history and the complicated and tragic legacy of race, class and gender in this country. The two big questions to be asked are: How did we get here from there?; and What happens next? Yesterday’s Jeremy Grantham article shed some interesting light from an otherwise unfamiliar (to me) perspective on the political and economic disenfranchisement of America’s working and middle classes since the 1970s.

The Grantham article triggered an email conversation between me and a college friend, an historian who specializes in late 19th Century U.S. politics. I’ve also been trying to interpret journalistic and anecdotal accounts of last Saturday’s [01/21/17] global Women’s March, specifically to parse the various strains of a movement that is being characterized by gender, but which may find (and generate) additional value as it moves forward by looking beyond that border. I’ve been writing about that last point since before the election, and will continue to refine my thoughts. Your thoughts (in the comments), of course, are appreciated.

Depiction of John Henry
Depiction of John Henry

“According to legend, John Henry‘s prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam-powered hammer, a race he won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand as his heart gave out from stress.”

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Road to Armageddon?

Take a look at this insightful article by Jeremy Grantham in the 4Q 2016 GMO Quarterly Letter (h/t: RME):

Time to grab the wheel!
Time to grab the wheel!

“[W]e live in a different world from the one we grew up in. A world in which a degree of economic struggle between the financial elite, perhaps 10% but more likely 1%, and all the rest is finally recognized. The wimpy phase is probably over. The question now is which path will this struggle take? Will it be a broad societal effort through established political means to move things back to the 1950s to 1960s when a CEO’s pay was 40x his average employee’s pay and not today’s over 300x; when corporations never dreamt of leaving the US merely to save money; when investment banks set the standard (and a very high one) of ethical behavior? Or do we try to do it through the other historically well-used method, and a much more dangerous one – that of resorting to a “strong leader?” Strong leaders work out just fine if we end up with a Marcus Aurelius, the mostly benevolent and wisest of Roman Emperors. But when things go wrong, as they often do, we could more easily end up with Caligula.”

You know, everybody likes candy. But if that’s all you eat, you will die — and not well. Can we at least consider the possibility that “the unregulated market” doesn’t always know what’s best, and that as participants in (and in some cases, stewards of) our capitalist society, we need to adopt a more nuanced approach to our preferred socio-political belief system than the current “dog keeps eating until it throws up” model?

We are not dogs. We are supposed to be better than this.

Full Article (7 pages):
The Road to T****sville: The Long, Long Mistreatment of the American Working Class

01-20-17: On This Day In History

Morning: got up; took my vitamins; showered and dressed; went to work; dealt with some emails; worked on my projects; had a conference call; did more work on my projects.

A hearty breakfast
A hearty breakfast

Afternoon: had lunch at my desk; continued work on my projects; responded to email; chatted with co-workers; handled more email and whatnot; did more project work; went to the bathroom; got some Fritos out of the machine.

A picture of some lunch at somebody's desk
A picture of some lunch at somebody’s desk

Evening: finished up work for the day and shut down; went home; put out the trash; went to the market; fixed a little dinner; thought about watching TV, but decided to listen to music and read; straightened up a little bit; put my jammies on; hopped in the sack.

Bedtime (not me)
Bedtime (not me)

Also: The world as we know it came to an end.


“Black-ish”: Season 3 / Episode 12: “Lemons”

I am amazed (and encouraged) that this sequence appeared on primetime network television. It may not “say it all,” but it says a lot of it. I hope it reached a wide audience, and that you watch the episode and share this post.

Business Insider:
“Black-ish” Addressed the Election of T**** and Race in a Scene You Need to Watch











Watch the full episode from ABC here (requires CATV subscription).

2017-01-11: Quick Notes on Whatever it Was that Happened This Morning

Hey, I’m no fan of T****, but let me start by saying how completely disgusted I am at BuzzFeed for publishing unsubstantiated dirt that numerous outlets have had for months but have withheld because it’s probably fake. BuzzFeed is an unmitigated disgrace to the journalistic profession, and their actions only will serve to strengthen T****’s reputation among so-called populists.

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Also, even if he did what they say he did, it’s nobody’s business — as long as what he allegedly did was consensual. If we want the G.O.P. to get out of everybody else’s personal business, then we have to get out of theirs. The only thing “salacious” about these (probably fake) “revelations” is that people with nothing smarter to do have seized upon them. The real issues with this fool are his cabinet picks, his third-grade maturity level, his emotional instability, his pathological lying, his kleptocratic tendencies, and about 5o other things.

Like I said, I’m no fan.

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