Saturday, April 17, 2010

An ADHD moment

I wanted to sit down and write a story. But of course, I have ADHD, which makes any task explode into a tangent of other tasks that are only marginally related to the original task of writing.

I started out just fine. I took my medication, which is a long-acting form of Ritalin. The problem with this medication is that because it is long-acting, it also takes a while to start working. So if I start trying to focus on something immediately, it doesn't always work.

I walked the dog, came back, got myself a glass of tea, and sat down with my laptop. When I opened OpenOffice, an information bubble popped up, telling me I needed to update something. I'm so fed up with information bubbles popping up on my computer. I clicked on the stupid thing and it crashed OpenOffice.

Well, at that point I decided I'd had enough of OpenOffice, and got on the web to find another kind of freeware word processing software. As I was scrolling through the list of programs available, I remembered that Matthew had a copy of Word 2007 on the main desktop. I don't want to use the main desktop for writing, because we don't have a good computer desk, and the chair is way too low, so it's uncomfortable.

Anyway, I got the idea that maybe I could turn on network sharing so that I could share the copy of Word that was on the desktop computer and use it on my laptop. I know now that such things are not possible, but at the time it seemed like a likely possibility. So I took my laptop over to the desktop and connected the homegroups using the password, making sure everything was shared properly. In the process, I noticed that while the laptop could see the desktop, the reverse was not true, so I spent some time trying to fix that problem. While I was doing that, I decided to set up all of the homegroup settings, making sure that I could use the network printer, and that my iTunes library on the desktop was shared with my laptop.

That accomplished, I went about trying to open the desktop copy of Word on my laptop. Unfortunately, my laptop showed that copy only as a shortcut, and since Word wasn't installed on my laptop, I realized that my genius idea just wasn't going to work, and I was going to have to either stick with using OpenOffice or find another program.

I took my laptop back over to my comfy writing nook and checked to make sure the network settings were all working, and then, since I was doing that anyway, opened iTunes on my laptop and synced it with my desktop library. Then I went back to the website and tried to find a freeware word processing software. I found one called AbiWord, and downloaded it. While it was installing, I checked to see how much Word actually costs, but for some reason, the website I was looking at didn't list the price.

AbiWord installed itself and I started trying to use it, only to discover that its dictionary didn't recognize contractions. Well that was no good at all. Finally, I gave up and opened OpenOffice, wrote a few sentences, and then got up to get myself a glass of tea. I got a glass out of the cabinet, got the tea out of the fridge, and then realized I had a glass of tea already, put the tea back in the fridge, leaving the glass on the counter, and went back and sat down at my laptop.

I wrote a few more sentences of what I was originally writing, and then realized how funny the whole previous sequence of events had to be if seen from the perspective of someone who doesn't have ADHD, so I switched to a new document and started writing this.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mine Disasters

Hello Sinister ...well, I've been away so long I doubt anyone's still reading this...so here comes a rare political post that hearkens back to the glory days of this once-mighty blog.

Yesterday's mine disaster in West Virginia is obviously tragic and upsetting for a great number of reasons. But I want to make a couple of points about it.

Rachel Maddow tonight pointed out that the company who runs the mine had literally thousands of safety violations over several years, and had been fined millions of dollars. The trouble is, the mine owners made a cold calculation: it was cheaper to pay the fines than it would be to fix the problems. Thus, they put profit over the safety and lives of the mine workers - and did so in a very conscious, calculating, capitalist manner.

The lesson I think needs to be drawn from this is quite simple: capitalists, left to their own devices, will kill people to keep their pocketbooks fat.

The "free market" offers absolutely no protection from this barbarity. And clearly, the regimen of fines set up by the government isn't working, because the fines cost less than would fixing the safety violations.

My first question to the government is this: Why doesn't the punishment for a violation require fixing the violation, instead of just a fine? Fine the company, and as part of that punishment, require that they pay the fine AND fix the violations - or face immediate shut down. Why is that not the case now?

Still, I fear that even such a solution as that would not be sufficient - capitalists tend to hire lawyers to help them weasel out of regulations so they can protect their bottom line. Or they just ignore them and buy Congressmen to keep the regulators out of their hair.

The "free market" clearly cannot be trusted with the lives of our coal miners. Too many have died because the capitalists literally decided that they'd rather pay a fine than create a safe work environment.

Of course, part of the problem is that we're running out of coal, and the coal that we're going after now is in much more dangerous places. But still - when you have such a blatant example of this kind of callous disregard for human life, this capitalist need to kill to protect profits - there's not much else that can be said.

I'd like to call on Congress and the President to consider a new spending program that would create safe mines, help us get control of our energy infrastructure, and probably create jobs in the process.

Nationalize the coal mining industry, and allow the United Mine Workers in to each site to unionize the workplaces. When mines are run by capitalists, union busting, just like safety violations, is rampant. When mines are unionized, mines are safe - as one commentator on Rachel Maddow's show put it, mining becomes a brotherhood, with all miners looking out for each other, and fire captains assigned to stand guard against accidents.

Nationalizing the coal industry will also serve another purpose, beyond creating safe, unionized, secure work places for miners. By nationalizing the coal industry, the government can take the profits gained from the industry to build new nuclear power plants, thus weaning us away from the need to use fossil fuels. Then, eventually, we can begin retraining programs, so that mine workers can enter safer, more healthy lines of work, and we can kill this dirty, unsafe industry once and for all.