Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Two Rants and a Rave

Rant #1: I'm really glad I don't live in New York City right now--not just because it's really cold this time of year, but also because of the transit strike that's been plaguing the city for the past two days. Never mind the fact that I'm no fan of unions, but that's immaterial to this discussion when you take into account the fact that it's illegal for public servants (police officers, firefighters, and yes, transit workers) to go on strike. As of late today, there was some hope of a settlement, but a lot of damage has already been done.

Sure, the union members may say that they're "looking out for the little guy," but a whole bunch of other little guys--i.e. the ones who couldn't get to work without the bus or subway, or did so by walking, bicycling or Rollerblading in 24-degree temperatures--have been messed over by the union's selfish actions.

A judge has already imposed a $1 million dollar per day fine on the union itself, and the next step might be to penalize individual union members from their own pockets (though not, in all likelihood, by hauling the defiant union president into court; both sides agree that would just interfere with the ongoing negotiations). Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn't mince words when he expressed his distaste for the union's action:
“It needs to end, and it needs to end right now,” Bloomberg said in a news conference Wednesday, repeatedly lashing out at what he called an “illegal, selfish strike” and questioning how union leaders could claim their walkout would benefit the working class.

“Working people are the ones who are being hurt,” Bloomberg said. “The busboy is getting hurt, the garment industry worker is getting hurt, the owners of mom and pop businesses. ... The ones getting hurt the most are the ones who can least afford it. If they don’t get paid, they don’t eat.”

The strike was responsible for a 40 percent decline in business at restaurants, an 80 percent decline in visitors at museums, and a 90 percent decline in customers at the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, the mayor said. He estimated the city’s lost revenue at $300 million to $400 million a day.
The union members have not been winning friends and influencing people in the general population either:
Isaac Flores, who works at a law firm in midtown, was part of a complicated, four-person car pool.

“They’re too spoiled,” Flores said of the transit workers. “They want to retire at age 55. They’re making more money than a cop.”

Myra Sanoguet, who was with him, said they saw a group of pickets during the drive. Just briefly, “we were thinking about running them over,” she said.
I'm sure she wasn't serious, but I really wonder if the union members have a complete grasp on the trouble they are causing their city right now.

Rant #2: The "headteacher" (the equivalent of a principal, I assume) of a Welsh school has drawn the ire of parents after she banned the filming of school concerts and pageants. Barbara Williams is being denounced as "Scrooge" by many parents, who have blasted her policy as "political correctness gone mad" and noted that the filming ban would force some parents who can't attend the concert to miss it entirely. Williams' deputy, who hid behind a cloak of anonymity, claimed that they were only following borough (district) orders, but others at the borough headquarters said that such a decision was in fact left to the local officials.

The idea behind the ban supposedly has to do with child protection issues, with supporters concerned that "photographs of children....can be published anywhere." But the borough council has already published a 24-page guide to the "safe use of images," and it's understandable why the parents would resent the borough playing nanny in this manner.

I'm with the parents on this one; the world has too many meddling busybodies trying to tell other people what's good for them. If it's fear of a lawsuit that is driving this...well, that's another rant for another time. So what do you think--was the headteacher being excessively paranoid, or should she have trusted the parents of her students to use common sense if they published the pictures in public forums (especially considering the likelihood that most of the videos or stills will only end up being viewed by family and friends)? Feel free to chime in using the comments. (Hat tip: Lileks)

Rave: No, it's not that kind of rave, so put away your pacifier and glowstick. But it is one of the funniest stories I've read in a long time: A stray moose is captured in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after wandering near a neighborhood...evidently attracted by the sounds of a local youth practicing his saxophone with the window open:
Connie Evenson of Sioux Falls was among those who saw the moose. She said she noticed movement in her backyard Monday afternoon as she watched television in her living room.

..."We thought it was kind of funny, but our son, Matt, was practicing his baritone saxophone and had his window open," Evenson said. "We wondered if it was like the call of the wild that attracted the moose to our house."
That one got a big laugh out of me. You see, when I was in high school, my dubious "claim to fame" was that I had once outblown the entire woodwind section on a low B-flat on the bari. When it happened, the director stopped for a second, looked at me and asked, "Kevin, are you hunting moose?" Who knew that it might have actually worked?

Don't try this at home: Blaster vs. saber (Hat tip: Lileks again)


Anonymous said...

There is nothing funny about your stupid moose story. Your sense of humor sucks and you, as a whole package, suck even more. You should be ashamed of yourself. And I am one of your friends. Imagine what others might say of you.

Kev said...

Merry Christmas to you too...

Anonymous said...

That was totally out of line. Sorry