10.07.10

Hot Jobs: Natsec & home-visit bedpan techs

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 4:08 pm by George Smith

UPDATED

The farce of “Hot Jobs” news stories on Yahoo remains a relentlessly good mine for gallows humor. You can tell a lot about the state of the nation — failed — by observing the labor it’s hiring.

The new name for bedpan technician is “Home Health Aide.”

Future job prospects are good for the multi-skilled home oxygen & drainage tubing techs/wheelchair pushers/pill caddy fillers, reassigned from the clinic to duty where the elderly and infirm are being warehoused in place. “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” rings across the land, louder every year.

These are $20k/year jobs with little benefits. (Considering the nature of the work, they actually should be compensated much more richly.) So if you live in the big city, unless you’re bunking up with multiple roomies or your spouse has a better paying gig, you’ll be consuming bagloads of freeze-dried noodles.

Much better prospects await those who can capitalize on national paranoia and the war on terror infrastructure, a guarantor of job creation because it actively searches for new enemies and, therefore, always has a growing need for staff.

Yahoo Hot Jobs recommends career futures in Homeland Security:

If you are looking for a challenging career with high stakes, consider Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security, which was formed as a result of the September 11 attacks, is responsible for everything from cyber security to border protection. As just one example of this career’s growth pattern, in August 2010, President Obama signed a $600 million bill that pays for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents.

It’s true. Job fairs now have the guys in green from Border Patrol. However, this is only good if you’re young and strong. It leaves all the middle-aged middle class office-workers, the ones you see being fired and crying or stating their intent to commit suicide on HBO’s reshow of Up In the Air this month.

And while you may not know dick about chemical or biological terrorism, unlike me — which doesn’t really matter anyway since observing reality isn’t part of the job description, there doesn’t seem to be any obstacle to a career in homeland security other than a college degree.

Related to Homeland Security jobs are solid conditions for “forensic accountants.”

Like Homeland Security workers, they’re an outgrowth of trouble — mostly of our own devise. There’s a law enforcement/justice demand for people to slowly wind their way through the government’s list of potential corporate and Wall Street crooks generated due to the economic collapse.

The systemic fraud in the home foreclosure predator business, as practiced by the same banks which brought on the economic calamity, guarantees this as a boom industry.

The tip of the iceberg is well-described here at Digby.

And, as noted previously here — regionally, the prospects are good for engineers who can get their feet in the door of the flying robot assassin business at General Atomics.

Today’s Los Angeles Times informs:

Indeed San Diego drone builder General Atomics Aeronatical Inc. will hold a job fair Saturday. It is hiring up to 60 engineers, technicians and machinists, a month.

Now that the fantasy of Hot Jobs has been dispensed with once again, a headline in yesterday’s LA Times Business section read: “Jobs remain a booming US export.”

“Though some American firms are bringing overseas work back home, evidence is growing that companies are moving more jobs than ever to China and other countries — a move that could exacerbate efforts to bring down the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate,” reports the newspaper.

“One sign of increased off-shoring is the rising number of applications for Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance which usually goes to factory workers who lost their jobs because their work was sent overseas or was undercut by cheaper imports … For the six months that ended Sept. 30, workers at about 1,200 offices and plants nationwide were approved for Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance.”

This is up 20 percent from the previous half-year, the newspaper reported.

“President Obama has complained the US tax system encourages companies to invest and hire abroad, but a bill that would have ended certain tax credits and deferrals to companies expanding or moving overseas was voted down in the Senate last week,” the newspaper concluded.

A Los Angeles Times business story on Small Business Administration-backed loans is here.

The very small beer about this has to do without it will be a boon for job creation because everyone is in dire need of access to capital.

How will that capital be spent?

The Times furnishes an interesting example:

Kent Peterson, who owns an engineering company in Long Beach with his twin brother, Kevin, said he has already swung into action on the remodel he is planning with his loan money.

Peterson had put off construction on his project to redo the offices of P2S Engineering as his loan — approved way back in the spring — languished while Congress bickered over the small-business-stimulus legislation.

“It’s going to be a fantastic space when we’re all done,” said Peterson, who plans to make his offices more energy efficient, install a gym and create new windows in the building. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

They are going to install a gym. It is, as we all know, of signal importance to always be your buffed-est.

And here is a handy chart which thoroughly kicks the ass of any expectations about “Hot Jobs” — except at General Atomics.

You may ask, “Why this focus on the dreadful US economy and prospects for the middle class, Dick?”

Well, mass unemployment leads to political instability, as we’ve seen.

Political instability is a serious threat to everyone’s security.

If you don’t address it satisfactorily, soon Victoria Jackson’s “There’s a Communist In the White House” has half a million views on YouTube, along with everything that suggests.

More Tea Party Folk Music

Posted in Extremism, Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll at 11:48 am by George Smith


Good news, lads! Good news! There’s no satire here!

If you view this on YouTube, you’ll notice the video is the property of the PasadenaTeaParty. Of which I am not a member.

Everyday, DD takes a walk to pick up lunch supplies, crossing the el Molino Street bridge on the way to Lake. On the right hand side just back of a church is a rambling mansion, fenced in by iron and guarded by a Doberman which has been de-barked.

Big sign in front yard: “Putting liberals in Congress is like putting PIRANHAS in your child’s playpool!”

” ‘I’m a beginner political activist,’ said former ‘Saturday Night Live’ star Victoria Jackson, who took to the stage with a ukulele and sang ‘There’s a Communist Living in the White House,'” wrote LA Times columnist Steve Lopez on a Tea Party rally in Beverly Hills last week. (Unbelievably, there was one.)

“I thought either Jackson was satirizing the movement or that she was doing a Porky Pig impression,” continued Lopez. “But I later saw video of her insisting on various occasions that President Obama is indeed a communist.”

Lopez’s entire column is here.

You may ask why I embedded this video. I won’t tell you.

10.05.10

Father of US germ warfare dies

Posted in Bioterrorism at 7:15 am by George Smith

William Patrick, the father of the original US germ warfare program, has died. As this country’s chief biowar scientist during the Cold War, Patrick perfected the applied misuse of rabbit fever and weaponized anthrax.

He was 84, as noted by an obituary today in the Washington Post here.

In the Nineties, Patrick was a central character in lurid books and articles on biological warfare by Richard Preston and Judith Miller. Miller along with co-authors at the New York Times, produced Germs, a history of worldwide biowar programs, including that of the United States during the Cold War.

After 9/11 and the anthrax mailings, it was generally thought Patrick would have a lot to contribute to the discovery and netting of the anthrax mailer.

This did not pan out.

Patrick was, however, noted in the Post for having written a report for the US government, years before the anthrax attack, on the lethal potential of its spores in the mail.

“[Patrick] had been commissioned to write a report on the effectiveness of an anthrax attack spread through the mail system,” writes the Post today. “In the report, Mr. Patrick described how an envelope laced with 2.5 grams of anthrax could do significant harm by direct and indirect contact.”

The paper notes this was about the same amount used by Bruce Ivins.

The newspaper lists a number of Patrick’s career milestones.

However, many microbiologists would fairly consider them dubious.

Patrick held five secret patents on the weaponization of anthrax. And according to the Post:

Under Mr. Patrick’s direction, scientists at Fort Detrick developed a tularemia agent that, if disseminated by airplane, could cause casualties and sickness over thousands of square miles, according to tests carried out by the U.S. government.

Patrick and his US biowar teams “conducted mock attacks in places bustling with people, including the New York subway system and Washington National Airport, in the latter case releasing anthrax simulants hidden in suitcases.”

One example was famous for its inclusion in college level microbiology texts.

Back in 2006, I wrote here:

From a common college textbook, “Fundamentals of Microbiology” by I. Edward Alcamo:

“Perhaps the most famous and controversial use of [Serratia marcescens] was the US Army’s ‘Operation Sea-spray,’ conducted in 1951 and 1952. To study wind currents that might carry biological weapons, scientists filled balloons with cultures of [the organism] and burst them over the ocean near San Francisco . . . Shortly thereafter, doctors at close by Stanford Hospital noted an unusual outbreak outbreak of pneumonia and urinary tract infections among hospital patients. They isolated Serratia in some of these cases, but could not establish the source . . . Serratia pneumonia is accompanied by patches of bronchopneumonia, and in some cases, substantial tissue destruction in the lungs . . . In addition, it is a widespread agent of urinary tract disease.”

US biowar scientists did not think Serratia marcescens could cause illness. It did. However, the microbe was of interest because it is easy to identify.

When cultured at room temperature, many strains of it turn a bright red from production of a compound called prodigiosin.

“Mr. Patrick was often called on to provide testimony for hearings involving bioterrorism, and was known to participate with zeal,” reported the Post.

This blog also reprinted excerpts from a Patrick seminar on preparedness for biological and chemical attack in 1995, discussing how he could attack the World Trade Center with tularemia:

“In this next situation, we are going to attack the World Trade Center with crude tularemia; francisella tularensis,” continues Patrick.

“I want to use 1,000 blood auger plates that you can buy practically anywhere: hospital supply houses, for instance. I can scrape 1,000 of these plates in 2 hours without a problem. I am going to scrape with a cotton swap so that I get confluent growth. In about 36 hours I am going to wash off the material that has grown there. I am going to wash it off with saline. If the terrorist is wise he is going to add a little sugar to maintain isotensity of the cell wall, cell membrane. I am going to Waring-blend this mixture and then I am going to filter it through cheese cloth.

“I am going to use a garden sprayer to disseminate the material. The critical point here, in addition to the agent, is that the garden sprayer has got to develop 90 psi; if it is less than that, you can forget it.

“One thousand plates with this little scheme will yield 5 liters of product or 1.32 gallons of material. Trust me on this. The agent concentration is not like a sophisticated production facility, but we have five times 108 of these cells per milliliter. The dose for man is a very conservative 50 cells; I could as easily have used 10 cells if it is fresh material. The garden sprayer has a 2-gallon capacity, 90 psi, one split orifice. I am going to disseminate at the rate of 1 gallon per 10 minutes, and I am going to use a very low disseminating efficiency because garden sprayers are not very efficient. I am going to get 0.001 percent of the material that I have. Attacking the World Trade Center with your good friend tularemia!”

“. . . Finally, I believe that a dedicated terrorist group can produce crude BW agents with simple procedures, with readily available equipment. I think they can jerry rig disseminating devices from equipment that can be purchased from a local hardware store. They can infect and kill large numbers of people in confined areas like buildings. The Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel was a very interesting study, classified, of course. The subway systems in New York, Chicago, and Washington. They will certainly produce panic and hysteria.”

If you read Patrick’s entire presentation in the original, along with the rest of those from the old bioterror-is-coming lobby, the audience doesn’t quite get Bill Patrick. A couple venture to say, logically, that if everything is possible just as he says it is, there’s nothing anyone can do. The terrorists will strike, lots of people will get sick and die, and emergency services will be crushed.

This has not turned out to be the case.

The Post ended on this note:

Despite the macabre nature of his work at Fort Detrick, Mr. Patrick spoke about how vital his profession was to national security.

“We did not sit around talking about the moral implications of what we were doing,” he told the Baltimore Sun in 2004. “We were problem-solving.”

Opinions, of course, differ.


(H/T to SA)

10.04.10

Made in China: WSJ poll indicates nausea

Posted in Made in China at 3:33 pm by George Smith

The frontpage story in today’s Wall Street Journal led with the headline: Americans Sour on Trade

“The American public, already skeptical of free trade, is becoming increasingly hostile to it,” it reads.

“It is also prompting concern among US businesses reliant on the rest of the world for growth.”

“Even Americans most likely to be winners from trade — upper income, well-educated professionals whose jobs are less likely to go overseas and whose industries are often buoyed by demand from international markets — are increasingly skeptical.”

A whopping 94 percent of “professionals/managers” and 89 percent of “white collar workers” agreed with the statement: “Do you agree or disagree that outsourcing of production and manufacturing work to foreign counties is a reason the US economy is struggling and more people aren’t being hired.”

“To many, China has replaced Wall Street as the villain du jour,” the newspaper continued.

Not entirely. DD thinks many aren’t so stupid to believe the two aren’t related, Wall Street tending to reward US multinationals when they shuck US labor in favor of outsourcing.

For example, in the newspaper’s “Marketplace” section, the lead story is “Propelling the Profit Comeback.”

“Aggressive retooling helps American companies wrest near-historic earnings from reduced revenue,” reads the subhed.

And how has this been done?

More predatory behavior: Firing people and shutting units, mostly.

“Starbucks Corp. eliminated 648 US stores …

“Despite the hefty profits, executives aren’t expected to boost spending on new employees, products and equipment anytime soon.”

Priceless stereotypical quote from the CEO of Electronic Arts, a company that laid off more than a quarter of its workers, moving jobs to “China, India and Canada.”

“The human cost of eliminating jobs is always painful, but in a way, the economic melee has helped us build a stronger company,” he told the Journal.

That was Carly Fiorina’s tune, too, until the recent political ad with her saying it started killing her chances of unseating Democrat Barbara Boxer in California.

A viewer of the China Toilet Blooz video on YouTube recommended an older clip, recommended Ha Ha Ha America.

That unfortunately hilarious clip, well worth a view, is here.


Continual lameness: Job training programs, sponsored by McDonalds and The Gap

This is what the president thinks is a good plan?

Reaching out to big business, President Barack Obama is set to announce a new program that links top companies with community colleges in hopes of ramping up America’s job skills.

The partnership plan — called “Skills for America’s Future” — is a key recommendation of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which has a meeting scheduled later Monday with Obama at the White House.

A White House official said the plan aims to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been publicly announced.

The initiative has the backing of Gap Inc., McDonald’s, Accenture and other big-name companies, the official said. — AP

Skills for America’s future — working the hamburger chain and retail sale of jeans made in China.

I commented on the president’s increasingly bizarre fetish for community college boosterism last year in “Bed Pan Technician-Training Schools Rejoice.” The idea that encouraging people to go into debt at community college for minimal jobs that may not exist for them, anyway, seems more parasitic than anything else.

It has, however, led to an explosion of questionable and possibly immoral on-line advertisements for loan services which will enable one to buy some on-line or community college chit.

The interior joke is that you really don’t need any training to do such jobs, just a chit from a community college that reassures human resource departments at hospitals you can read sufficiently well enough to know exactly who, in the room of two, is supposed to get the enema. For a big $20k a year.

Excerpted:

“President Barack Obama wants unemployment insurance to become a stepping stone for future work by making it easier to enroll in school or job training,??? reported AP today. “Whether he succeeds will depend on the willingness of states and colleges to change the rules.???

“‘Community colleges applauded the president’s plan. George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, said Obama would remove obstacles that keep the unemployed from heading back to school. The association represents about 1,200 such colleges.???

“Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican Party chairman, said his state already allows the unemployed to enroll in job training and encourages them to do so,??? informed the AP.

=========

Such unemployment reforms may quickly clear the way for the jobless to enroll in community college, making courses available to train them for a multiplicity of jobs.

Such jobs will include but not be limited to: test-tube cleaning, shelving and getting reagents, learning to use a Metler balance, mucous, surgical drain and breathing pipe maintenance, teeth scraping, gram-staining, changing oxygen tanks for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blood pressure-taking, temperature taking, enema giving, supervision of administration of Fleet’s Phospho-Soda, cleaning up messes in hospitals and clinics, airport security, turnstyle security, public transit security, frisking, pat downs and strip searching, simple detentions, immigration status checking, herding, temporary staffing, manning the metal detectors at court houses, X-ray smock fitting, checking dosimeters, wheelchair-bound patient moving, massage, bed pan emptying, restraining and strapping the old and mentally ill into chairs in various warehousing environments, bed sore monitoring, security work in privately administered prisons, embalming, corpse dressing, using word processor and accounting software, installing anti-virus software, transcribing, bank tellering, cafeteria work, how to wear a sterile smock, simple sterile procedures, transfers and transport of pees and poos in the clinical lab setting, refrigerated organ transport, transport of organs reclaimed from cadavers, preparing cadavers for organ reclamation, selling door to door, telemarketing, on-line promotion and astro-turfing, using Blogger, search engine optimization, building a network with Twitter, repeat calling debt collection, data entry and processing tax returns, using Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop and using Microsoft Powerpoint.

Robert Titman, an expert on the economic impact of continuing education at the City College of Gobble-Wallah in Birmingham, Alabama, predicted that in the next two years the US would see a big economic boom from the new highly educated and skilled workforce. The country would leap to the forefront in retraining the unemployed, providing a leading example for the rest of the world, he said.

Some of the names have been changed for purposes of satire. I’m not telling which ones.

James K. Galbraith, in “The Predator State”:

“The problem is that poverty and unemployment are not much influenced by the qualities and qualifications of the workforce. They demand, rather on the state of demand for labor.”

And, “Training and even education are no substitute, in other words, for ensuring that good jobs at decent wages are actually available when needed.”

10.03.10

Made In China: Carly Fiorina

Posted in Made in China at 11:07 am by George Smith

Alleged business acumen as liability.

10.02.10

Head US man squeaks for China

Posted in Made in China at 2:11 pm by George Smith

Krugman:

[Geithner]: “We’re not going to have a trade war; we’re not going to have currency wars. I don’t know what that means, but people are saying that.”

I suspect that he was trying to reassure the markets — but if we’ve learned anything lately, I hope it is that actions, not talk, matter.

And look, if China continues on its present course, eventually we will have some serious currency and trade conflict. Furthermore, we should.

All Geithner did here was signal to the Chinese not to worry, U.S. officials will keep making excuses for China’s behavior and doing nothing, regardless of provocation.

Go to your local supermarket, hardware store, or Guitar Center.

As a thought exercise, imagine all the substandard slave labor junk suddenly costing twice as much. Pretend the wine corkscrew now costs twice as much, the $119 Fender Strat (or First Act electric guitar in a cardboard box) costing two and a half times more, with no case or extras.

In many ways it’s a delightful fantasy. A trade war which encompasses such things immediately makes the substandard materials undesirable, even in an economy where the consumers the products are aimed at need stuff to remain cheap because they’be been beggared.

Suddenly the stock in pawn shops — and there’s a lot of it due to the Great Recession — looks more attractive.

And that’s spent money that stays in the US, at least paying a clerk, albeit awkwardly.

Philosophical question: If you can’t buy Chinese stub wrenches that don’t work (or “Hanes” socks that develop holes the second or third time they hit the washing machine), does it matter?

If the Chinese-made LoDuca “Chicago blues” harmonica goes from $10.99 to $20.99, suddenly becoming less desirable in price compared to a good standard German-made harmonica, it is a bad thing?

If the LoDuca company has to shift their product line to one of higher quality, but more expensive, can we afford it?

The recent history of Mattel’s stock price is here, — the quintessentially anti-American US company taking advantage of Chinese monetary policy and labor markets.

Its stock rating is good.


Two other huge Made-In-China US firms.

Wal-Mart stock ticker.

Best Buy stock ticker.

Guitar Center and Fender Musical Instruments are, sadly, privately held.

10.01.10

Made in China: Squeal of protest business story

Posted in Made in China at 12:53 pm by George Smith

Title of piece in LA Times business backpages — hardcopy — today: China faults US tariff bill.

Salient quotes, placed at the end.

Unintentionally hilarious:

[Some in China] worry [that allowing currency to rise] could undermine the nation’s export-driven economy and threaten the jobs of tens of millions of manufacturing workers.

Imagine that. MUST … AVOID … AT … ALL … COST.

Further:

If all China’s exporters are levied tariffs it will be quite a devastating event,” said Li Wei, a researcher for the Commerce Ministry. “Migrant laborers would lose their jobs and it would be a huge problem for political stability.”

Boy, lots of workers would lose their jobs. It could cause instability, pain and hardship. No way that’s fair.

And, in closing, the western businessman threatened by it all:

“Blaming China won’t help the US economy, but the legislation may cost American jobs,” said John D. Watkins, Jr., chairman of AmCham-China, an organization that represents American companies doing business in China.

You buy that toilet, it was made in China! That’s where all the jobs went, nothin’ could be finah!

Swiss Watch Harmonica

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll, Stumble and Fail at 8:44 am by George Smith

Here’s an astounding video (with some jump-on-the-grenade quality) of some harmonica pro extolling the virtues of his $180 Harrison. He gets through the entire video without once actually coming right out and saying the thing’s price.

In fact, the entire video is from the point-of-view of rationalizing the cost without ever mentioning it. It’s awkward in its cognitive dissonance but standard for selling extravagances for the haves now that we can’t make things everyone can afford in this economy.

Your run-of-the-mill viewer, even your pro, is going to be hard pressed to tell any difference between the harmonica this guy has recorded and any other harmonica they’ve heard on blues and rock records over the years. That’s a fact.

The next videos clear the mind, reminding how far the above rubbish is from where it started.

What He Said

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 8:03 am by George Smith

The hype about trade war is unjustified — and, anyway, there are worse things than trade conflict. In a time of mass unemployment, made worse by China’s predatory currency policy, the possibility of a few new tariffs should be way down on our list of worries.

Here.

And:

For the truth is that U.S. policy makers have been incredibly, infuriatingly passive in the face of China’s bad behavior — especially because taking on China is one of the few policy options for tackling unemployment available to the Obama administration, given Republican obstructionism on everything else. The Levin bill probably won’t change that passivity. But it will, at least, start to build a fire under policy makers, bringing us closer to the day when, at long last, they are ready to act.


Good news, lads! Good news! At least we killed the Mojo Deluxe Blues & Rock harmonica. 400 views and counting. Onward and upward!

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