Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Minimum Wage

In case you didn’t read it, I’ll summarize. So, Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries and a multi-billionaire, was in an interview with Wichita Eagle. I can’t really tell from the article what the interview was about, I’m assuming it’s about promoting a smaller government, seeing as he’s paying for an advertising campaign that promotes that. Anyways, he lists off a bunch of things that he seems to think might help poor people. Or something. And one of the things he lists is eliminating the minimum wage. Because, you know, eliminating the minimum wage is one of those things that might help eliminate poverty.
So, some hot shot economist, Charles Lamman, comments that this makes sense because people with little skills and low productivity, like, you know, young people and uneducated people, are worth less than the minimum wage because their work produces less profit for their company than what they get paid. In other words, it costs more to pay them than the money their work generates. So, they represent a deficit.
How about we think about that for a minute.
Do you know anybody who works for the minimum wage? In Canada, in USA, doesn’t matter. What kind of work do they do? Well, I know some people who get paid the minimum wage. I’ve worked for minimum wage for most of my working life. So, who gets paid minimum wage?
People who work at McDonalds. People who stock shelves in grocery stores. Cashiers at Wal-Mart.
Know what? I can’t think of a single example of a minimum wage job that generates less revenue that its employee gets paid.
At McDonalds, guess who does all the work that generates all the revenue. It’s the minimum wage employee. ALL the revenue. Not just some of it, but ALL of the revenue is generated by workers who get paid at or just above the minimum wage.
Acountants makes significantly more than the minimum wage. Do they generate any revenue? Nope.
How about managers? Do they generate any revenue? Not often. (When I worked at the Superstore, there was the store manager, the assistant store manager, an additional assistant store manager for each department (grocery, dairy, produce, meat, deli, seafood, housewares, electronics), and a manager and an assistant manager for each department. That’s over-management. So, the managers did a lot of grunt work while they mismanaged their departments. For example, my boss, the night shift manager, did as much of the grunt work as his employees did, but guess who made the schedule and did all the administrative work? Not the assistant night manager (who did absolutely nothing as far as I could tell); it was the shipper-receiver. That’s weird. So, the manager, by doing grunt work while neglecting his responsibilities was stealing a job from a potential employee while burdening other employees with administrative work that he should have been taking care of. Incidentally the store managers thought he was a hero. He was a lazy dick.)
Charles Lamman thinks eliminating the minimum wage will allow potential employees to negotiate a wage that is mutually beneficial. The employee gets a job, and the employer gets to pay him what he thinks he’s worth.
That sounds like a race to the bottom to me. Lowest bidder gets the job.
Do I hear zero? Anybody willing to work for nothing? No? Okay, the job goes to our most desperate bidder for $0.25 per hour. Thank you all for coming!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I'm going to do all three books at once.


In book one Primrose Everdeen, Katniss' little sister is chosen as a tribute for the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a competition where two children from each of the twelve districts of Panem go into an arena and fight to the death on live TV for the entertainment of the people in the Capitol. Yeah, it's twisted.

So Katniss volunteers, to protect her little sister. And she goes into the arena with her fellow tribute, Peeta, who has had a lifelong crush on her.

And that's just the beginning, next Katniss must fight again in yet another Hunger Games, and then all out war breaks out, with Katniss as the Hero of a revolution. It's a very exciting read.

What I liked

The suspense and the action. This is one of the most suspenseful and gripping series I have ever read.

Also, the premise is a fantastic commentary on consumerism, war, oppression, and whole lot of other timely topics.

What I didn't like

I'm really sorry, but I have to get this out. While I loved reading these books and I kept reading them because of the suspense, there's a lot I really didn't like. So here I'll summarize what I didn't like:

1. The Love Triangle: Okay, I know Love Triangles sell. But they're stupid and annoying and I hate them. It's just way too much pointless drama. How do Peeta and Gale put up with Katniss anyway? Why don't they get frustrated of her double dealing and ditch her?

2. Katniss Everdeen: Easily the least likable protagonist of all time.

So, what makes Katniss so unlikable? Well, for starters, she's self-centered and self-absorbed. I know angst sells, but it's just not cool. Also, through all three books, she never rises above her dysfunction, but rather wallows in it. You'll notice that none of her major or important decisions are based on well thought out or rational reasons but are just the product of how she feels at the moment--except at the very, very, very, very, VERY end, but I'll get to that. For the most part, Katniss doesn't think, she just feels. And, I know, this is normal for kids these days, but again, it's not cool. She always gets her way, and when it seems like she's not going to get her way, she becomes manipulative and underhanded.

She doesn't change or grow as a character across the three books, except at the end of book three. In every circumstance, she relies on who she is and what she already knows and can do to solve her problems. She rarely--if ever--has to stretch. And when circumstances come up where she can stretch, like when she has to perform on stage, she tries for a little bit until she realizes that she can't do it without learning a new skill and then she opts out.

So she ends up bumbling about and, essentially, she bumbles into becoming the hero of the story.

The only redeeming thing about the way Katniss' character is written comes at the end of book three where, when she becomes completely powerless to change her circumstances, she succumbs to PTSD and there's a touching little part at the very, very end about how she grows through it and sort of heals a little bit. I think that would have made a way more interesting story than all of Katniss' dysfunction in books two and three.

3. I found some things about the plot frustrating. For example, sometimes plot points just don't follow one another. That makes the story unpredictable and full of surprises, but not in a good way. I know that's the way things happen in real life, but it's annoying when it happens in fiction.

4. I also have a few reservations about the ending. All along, the story goes, Katniss is on a mission. She's determined and nothing is going to stop her and then WHAM! everything changes. The pace changes, the direction of the plot changes, everything changes. It's super jarring. It ends up being okay and working really well, but at first it's really annoying.


I can't wait until the movie comes out!!! 3/5 stupid angsty teenagers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Janelle got this book for her birthday from her sister and voraciously devoured it. Then she recommended it to me: You should read this! You'll love it.

So, I have to admit, I was turned off at first when I read the jacket: "Ann Voskamp is a writer with DaySpring (a division of Hallmark)..." I wasn't super keen on reading a book by a card writer about how wonderful life is and all about rainbows and cinnamon farts.

So I read it anyway and I liked it from the very start. The book is a biographical look at how gratitude, thankfulness, can change a life. In it, Ann Voskamp gives a cross section of her life and chronicles how being thankful erases bitterness, makes her kinder, more willing to forgive. It starts when she decides to make a list of all the things she is grateful for, and as she looks for things she is grateful for, she finds all the things that she should have been thankful for but, all this time, took for granted. Her list unlocked a life full of gifts.

What I liked

The writing was poetic and flowing. Here are a few examples:

"When children sleep under the scraps stitched into quilts and the clock ticks too loudly through the dark hours and the spiral galaxies spin in space, I lie under the afghan by the fire and read the words of an old sermon." (p. 33)

"I want the hunt, the long sleuth, the careful piecing together. To learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or hands empty." (p. 47)

"The moon rounds immense, incandescent globe grazing ours. Her gravity pulls, pearl filling deepening sky, stringing me unto the universe." (p. 105)

So you can see she writes well, she plays with words, turning adjectives into verbs and verbs into nouns, and nouns into adjectives. I like that. It makes for a rich and enjoyable read.

Also, the book is intellectual and deals well with some heavy issues like theology and philosophy. It's also not all about happiness and rainbows and magic, but it wrestles with difficult questions like, why do children die if God is good?

My favourite chapters were the ones where she writes about her family and her children. In one, older-son throws toast in younger-son's face and that turns into a discussion about how thankfulness can bring kindness and dissolve bitterness.

What I didn't like

There were parts, like in one chapter where she runs out into the farm field with her camera to take photos of the moon and she spends the whole chapter out there talking about how thankful she is for how beautiful the moon is. It just seemed a little dumb to me, but Janelle says that's just me.


I heartily recommend this book! Enough said. 4/5 dead little sisters.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Janelle and I watched the movie way back in December or November. It was so good, so suspenseful, had such great characters, that we desperately wanted to read the book.

So, we bought the book. And the next book. This is the first of seven books in what is called the 'Tomorrow' series.

Ellie and her six friends, Homer, Corrie, Robyn, Kevin, Fiona, and Lee go out to the mountains for a week long camping trip. When they get back, their country has been invaded, their families and neighbours have all been pressed into concentration camps, and they've got nowhere to go but back to the mountains.

Until, that is, they decide to fight back...

What I liked
The characters were very well developed. The plot was very interesting, action packed, and suspenseful. And the writing was really good.

In addition, the characters grapple with some very deep issues and come up with some profound thoughts.

What I didn't like

This is a great young adult book. I can't recommend it enough. 5/5 killer lawn mowers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The 250 Job Interview Questions by Peter Veruki

Since graduating from University, I've been looking for a job. My aunt lent me The 250 Job Interview Questions You'll Most Likely Be Asked ... and the Answers that Will Get You Hired! to help me with my job interviews.

The book begins by giving advice on researching prospective future employers, contacting them, and landing a job interview. Next it explains how to best prepare for an interview. The middle part of the book gives two hundred fifty interview questions and explains what the best kinds of answers to each question are. The end part of the book is about how to follow up an interview, how to handle rejection positively, and how to negotiate salary and benefits once a job offer is made.

What I liked
The book is very well written, it stays on topic, and it's short. I got through the book in just over five hours including the time I took to come up with my own answers to the interview questions.

The middle part of the book explains the interview questions very well. The question is printed on the page in bold typeface, under it the writer supplies a sample answer, then explains what concerns lead the interviewer to ask the question and what kind of answer would best alleviate those concerns.

The author also stresses that professionalism is important in any job hunt.

What I didn't like
Only one minor issue. The book's target audience is people looking for professional jobs. The questions and explanations reflect that. There isn't much in this book directed at people looking for non-professional jobs. That's not to say that the book isn't helpful to those people, though, because it can be.

A great help and a great confidence booster for any job seeker. 5/5 nervous job hunters.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Having captured Semirhage in book eleven, Rand al'Thor now has her tied up in the mansion he's living in in the back woods of Arad Doman with his army. Cadsuane, Nynaeve, and Min, meanwhile are concerned about his mental health.

Semirhage gets loose, though, and comes after Rand with a vengeance, putting a domination band on him and forcing him to strangle Min. Min and Rand escape, just barely, and Rand determines to become even harder, even meaner, so that no one can take advantage of his weakness again.

That leads his friends to be even more concerned about his mental health. They come up with a plan to fix him.

Meanwhile, the world is getting worse and worse. Food is spoiling randomly. Even though spring has come, the trees don't blossom, the grass won't grow.
Egwene still thinks she can fix the White Tower but after a confrontation with Elaida, she is imprisoned and accused of being a darkfriend. They might execute her! And then the Seanchan attack.

What I liked
This book balances Rand's internal drama and his descent into madness with plenty of action and suspense. There's even a middle of the night killer zombie episode. The end is surprising and happy and I really liked that. The character development was fantastic.

What I didn't like
It was long. I got the feeling that Brandon Sanderson thought that Robert Jordan's original draft was somehow sacred or something and shouldn't be cut. So there were pages and pages of writing that didn't add much to the story--too much description, too much explanation--especially in the first half of the book. It gets much neater towards the end. There was some pointless drama--I felt like Egwene should torch Gawyn with balefire to fix the pointless drama problem of the series--but it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

A great addition to the series. It builds a ton of suspense, many of the developments are surprising. It's good, and mostly well written. My favourite part, though, is Rand's character development in this series. So here's 4.5/5 violent patricidal temper tantrums.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Rand is finished getting rested up after cleansing the taint on Saidin (the male half of the Force Power) and he wants a meeting with the Seanchan to make peace with them. But he's worried that they'll use the opportunity to set a trap for him.

Mat, fleeing the Seanchan with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons, reunites with his band and prepares an ingenious campaign to distract the Seanchan and make a getaway.

Perrin has made a deal with the Seanchan that he hopes will help him get his wife back from the Shaido but can he trust Masema, The Prophet, to uphold his end of the bargain?

The siege of Caemlyn has turned into a full blown war for Elayne and casualties are rising. On top of that, Rand's orders to have the Aiel move to Arad Doman and prepare for the Last Battle takes Aviendha away from her. She hires a reformed cutpurse to follow the captain of her bodyguard, Meller, and find out just what he's up to. When that investigation uncovers a nest of Darkfriends, though, Elayne takes off on a poorly planned operation to bring them to justice.

Egwene is hanging out inside the White Tower. She's been brought right back down to being a novice but refuses to let go of her position as Amyrlin, which gets her in plenty of trouble. How long can she stand the beatings and stuff? Will she break? And what will happen to the tower?

What I liked
There was plenty of action and suspense in this latest addition to the Wheel of Time series. It kept me turning pages the whole way through. Very exciting.

What I didn't like
The drama. Like always. But it was toned down a little in this book and replaced with plenty of action and excitement.

My very favourite Wheel of Time book so far! The fast pace, the action, the suspense, and the excitement of this book made up for the flop that was Crossroads of Twilight. I give it 5/5 arm stumps.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Figment Book Review: The Pirate King's Daughter (Book One) by Anande Sjoden

Because Ivy Morgan is an orphan, she lives in the attic of Miss Trevelyan's boarding school for girls. There are other orphans there, particularly the dear and charming Milo, but Ivy is the oldest so it falls to her to take charge.

One of the students, Lisette Mallerton, who has always been kind to the orphans, turns up dead one morning and Ivy, discovering the body, remarks on the girl's strange tattoo. She finds it so strange, in fact, that she copies it onto her own forearm.

When it turns out that Lisette was actually murdered by the headmistress, Miss Trevelyan herself, who suspects Ivy is a witness, Ivy must assume Lisette's identity to cover the woman's crimes and save herself and the orphans from that villainous fiend.

Ivy becomes caught up in a deadly feud between two brothers. The adventures that follow are beyond imagining.

What I liked
The writing is fantastic and poetic. It's easy to read and a pleasure, too.

The story is exciting and suspenseful from start to finish. A real page turner.

The characters are very well drawn, interesting, believable, and endearing.

What I didn't like
Nothing. The book is just about perfect.

A perfectly delightful story. Full of excitement, adventure, danger, and suspense. A must read. Plus, it's free on Figment.com! Here's the link: The Pirate King's Daughter (Book One) by Anande Sjoden. I give it 5/5 buried treasures.

The Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan

The tenth book of the very, very long Wheel of Time series continues the story of Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn and his buddies. Mat, having kidnapped the Daughter of the Nine Moons is running for his life. Egwene is trying to recapture the White Tower. Perrin is trying to find his kidnapped wife. And Rand is lying in bed recovering from cleansing the taint on the male half of the Force Power.

What I liked
There was some suspense and some interesting parts, especially towards the end.

What I didn't like
Pretty much everything. This book was so SLOW!!! Frustratingly so! Boring! Too much talk and not enough action. Nothing really happens in this book, but Robert Jordan takes about six hundred pages to tell us so. And then, at the very end, one important thing happens, and the book ends.

If you're reading the series skip this book, you can find a summary online. I give it 1/5 cranky old ladies.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dear Sam

Dear Sam, this morning, after I fed you and changed your diaper and you peed on me--twice--, I held you in my arms on the rocking chair and you put your head on my shoulder and fell asleep and drooled all down my neck while I sang Vito's Ordination Song to you and prayed for you.

...God of the wind and rain, the ocean and mountains, the mud and clay and sky, the grass and the trees; Creator of heaven and earth, God of the stars and the sun and the moon, God of night and day; you know this child, teach him to know you; you love this child, teach him to love you; be a father to him, you're my father, too...

Dear Sam, having you makes me appreciate who God is, as my father, so much more. To him, I am like a child. Everything I need comes from him... when you fuss and complain and scream because you want your bottle and you want it now, I'm not holding it back from you, it's warming up because I don't want to give it to you cold and I'll put it in your mouth in just a minute... God doesn't hold back from me, he gives me the things I need and the things that are good. Like you. God gives me you. And I am as helpless as you are. But I fuss and complain and whine because I want what I want and I want it now and I worry that I'll never get it and that seems like such a big deal to me.

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