Wisconsin solidarity

Slab of floor available in Las Vegas????

My impoverished union local (AFSCME 91) has elected me a delegate to our International Convention in Las Vegas July 17-22, but is unable to pay more than a fraction of my expenses. Is there one among you who could offer me a slab of floor (I've slept on bare concrete, piles of donated clothing, carpet, air mattresses, army cots, foldabeds, couches and what have you, in a good cause) near an RTC stop, maybe with wi-fi, for a few nights?
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    "Solidarity Forever"
Wisconsin solidarity


When Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential race, an out-of-state friend e-mailed me "I bet YOU'RE happy!"

I responded, "My concern is that, like an abusive spouse returning from an unsuccessful business trip, he will come back to Wisconsin and beat us up some more, doubling-down on his attacks on almost every non-millionaire Wisconsinite, especially those of us with the gall to work for the public or to have unions or (shudder!) both, while shouting the management equivalent of, 'You lazy bitch! Look what you made me do!'." I knew there was already a bill to cut back state pensions, and to make it harder to retire from state service early, even with a vastly diminished pension.

Sure enough, within days of Walker's humbling, his legislative allies announced a package of what they have the gall to call "recruitment and retention reforms" which would undo over a century of actual civil service reforms. The system of impartial civil service examinations tailored to the jobs being filled would be abandoned in favor of a system of resume gathering, overtly modelled on what many experts agree is the most broken part of American corporate hiring practices. Resume-based hiring, aside from the obvious ("we want clerical candidates with a Ph.D., tri-lingual, and willing to start at $13.50/hour"), is famously subject to the prejudices and antipathies of human resource departments, as well as to plain old-fashioned corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

Robert Kiefert, who once ran civil service testing for the State of Wisconsin, recently wrote, "The merit system of civil service was, and is, one of the few ways those of us who came from poorer and less connected backgrounds could scratch our way to the top based upon what we knew not who we knew." I told him, "Robert, that's the problem: civil service exams have allowed too many of us undesirables into employment: wrong color, wrong shape, wrong school, wrong social class, wrong church, wrong politics, wrong tailor..." It is no accident that for many decades, ambitious immigrants, people from working-class backgrounds, and minorities in general have found civil service, with its system of impartial exams, a path to upward mobility. That (in the eyes of many Walker allies) is the problem; they want a system more hospitable to the job-hungry but marginally competent sons and daughters of their campaign backers, the legacy kids who look good on paper but couldn't pass a rigorous exam that was not about high-end clothing and upscale brand names; and the kids who went to the right schools (expensive or conservative Christian or both). Positions would be filled from existing resumes on file, with no way for those not in the know to become candidates (fewer unworthy and "outsider" types to introduce new ideas or different thoughts). Walker has spoken with disdain about a short-order cook who did well enough on the civil service exam that he had to be interviewed for a financial examiner position: how dare a peasant aim so high! I myself knew at least one short-order cook who had a Ph.D. from Harvard in economics (he went short silver when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market, and lost everything).

In the name of "reform", employees would be held hostage for a two-year probation period, during which they could be fired at will, although if new hires are deemed "exemplary" enough management might waive the second year of probation.

Existing employees would no longer have any seniority protection from being dumped into the street if their jobs are eliminated or turned into additional patronage slots; and the process of discipline and discharge would be streamlined to make it easier to fire existing workers (making it harder to defend yourself against accusations or find representation; no sense allowing those sinister public workers the rights guaranteed accused murderers or embezzlers, right?).

As to the other "reforms": cutting back on the possibility of early retirement at diminished payment, to take care of an aging parent or spouse or just get out of Walkerstan? That's just chaining us to our desks or forcing us to quit state service entirely. It does nothing to strengthen the already-ironclad state investment funds, quite possibly the nation's soundest (Walker has recently lied, trying to claim credit for their condition). The other provision of THAT bill, of course, simply cuts back on the pension payments for public workers, with no justification whatsoever save that they believe they can do it (just as the legislature chose last year to double the out-of-pocket costs for public workers' health insurance, apparently to punish us for not quitting already, by making it harder to see a doctor or fill a prescription with what's left of our paychecks after five years of slashing).

When Act 10 was illegally railroaded through the legislature (with the collusion of the worst state supreme court money can buy), workers were assured unions weren't needed to protect us because the civil service system would continue. That has now been shown up for just another Walker lie.

Oh, and one of their excuses? The state is losing many of its most experienced workers. Competent managers in real-life businesses (the kind Scott Walker has never worked for in his entire career) know that recruiting and retaining quality staff is accomplished by respect, honesty, good working conditions, and yes, adequate compensation, with a chance for advancement. Instead, we state workers get the latest in a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably a design to reduce us under absolute despotism, while Walker and cronies shout, "What's wrong with you lazy, greedy, uppity bastards; don't you understand we respect and appreciate our hard-working, dedicated employees?" Ah, yes; the beatings will continue until morale improves, or more likely until we're all dead or driven out in favor of Walker clones and party-line drones, to the detriment of the citizens of the once-proud State of Wisconsin.

-- Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey is a clerical worker for the State of Wisconsin, and President of Local 91, Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME; this essay originally appeared in his magazine Bemusements of a Visible Fan for mailing #372 of the Milwaukee Amateur Press Association
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    "Solidarity Forever"

Loving Day

48 years ago, in Loving v Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the states could not ban inter-racial marriage.

34 years ago, parkingprincess became my wife, and I her husband.
Thus, this day, June 12, is known as "Loving Day"!
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    "Rubber Bride"

Sanders in 2016

I have already announced that I am running as a Sanders delegate for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. I am asking that anybody who agrees that we need more thinking like Bernie's in the Democratic Party, lay plans NOW to attend the 2016 Democratic 4th Wisconsin Congressional District caucus, and support my candidacy.
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    "Happy Days Are Here Again"


Non-White Female Character in an SF Story Most Eloquently Parroting Political Opinions Held Almost Exclusively By Reactionary White American Males
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    "Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Dope: It's All Their Fault"

The Puppies are displaying their broad ignorance of the field they claim to revere

Historically, SF fandom was centered in the fanzines, constantly refreshed by names culled from the letter columns of the prozines. Conventions were rare and widely scattered, whereas a letter cost less than a dime to mail, and fanzines could easily be printed and mailed for much less than a quarter-dollar. If you lived in a big enough town, this was bolstered and enlarged by local SF clubs, at least one (LASFS) still extant today.

Starting in the 1960s, and more in the 1970s, conventions became more common, but these sprang from the local fandoms (both club and fanzine), and carried on the same conversation, with many of the same participants still around. This conversation in turn (for those unable or unwilling to attend conventions in the flesh, or just wanting more doses of that fannish pleasure) shifted gradually from paper fanzines to online venues, from Usenet and e-mail lists to LiveJournal (and individual blogs) to Facebook. But all these were carrying on the same conversation, and some of the participants remained the same or were the spiritual heirs of the same conversants. We are all the heirs of Bob Tucker, of Forrest J Ackerman, of Jan Howard Finder, of Rusty Hevelin and Lee Hoffman, of Robert Bloch and Morojo, of John Boardman and Harry Warner, Jr., of Terry Carr and Russ Chauvenet and Vin¢ Clarke and Bob Shaw and Jan Howard Finder and Ross Pavlac and Ken Moore and Dean Grennell, of Samuel Edward Konkin III and Steig Larsson (yes, he was One of Us), of Judith Merril and Sam Moskovitz and Ray Palmer, of Frederik Pohl, of Tom Reamy and Bill Rotsler, of Damon Knight and Julie Schwartz, of Donald A. Wollheim. Some of them became pros; some remained “only” fans. But every time you argue about Hugo selection, or use the term “space opera”, or deprecate the use of the horrible neologism “sci-fi” or otherwise celebrate this wonderful thing we enjoy, you ARE part of that conversation, whether you ever get to a con or not. And you are part of science fiction fandom.

Some of the puppies are fuggheads of fandom (the fuggheads, we have with us always); but sadly, they have started to bring in allies: mercenaries and meat-puppets who are not now nor have they ever been part of that conversation, and don’t even understand that it ever existed.
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    "National Brotherhood Week" - T. Lehrer

Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant

The Speculative Literature Foundation is pleased to announce the application period for our first annual Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant is now open.

The application period for the Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant opened December 1, 2014, and will close February 20, 2015. The winner for the grant is expected to be announced by April 15, 2015.

The SLF Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant is awarded to assist working class, blue-collar, poor, and homeless writers who have been historically underrepresented in speculative fiction, due to financial barriers that have made it much harder for them to have access to the writing world.

Currently, we are offering one $750 working class grant annually.

The Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant will be awarded by a committee of SLF jurors on the basis of interest and merit. Factors the jurors will consider when judging the grant include:

· A short, personal statement (up to 750 words) that addresses the applicant's relevant financial background, why the applicant qualifies for the grant, and the applicant's future writing goals.

· And a writing sample—published or unpublished—up to 10 pages of poetry, 10 pages of drama, or 10,000 words of fiction or creative nonfiction.

More detailed information about the Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant and its guidelines can be found here: http://www.speclit.org/Grants/SLFWorkingClass.php

The Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant, as with all of our Speculative Literature Foundation grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature. The Speculative Literature Foundation defines speculative literature as a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard and soft science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern mythmaking -- any literature containing a fabulist or speculative element.

If you have questions about the Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant, please contact Malon Edwards at: managing_dir@speclit.org
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    "Solidarity Forever"

My seester

It was 19~~~. Daddy was editor of the Daily Corinthian, so we were living in Corinth, MS. Mom, we were informed, had had to go to the hospital, which conveniently enough was right across the street. We all went over there: me (5); Patrick (3.5); and Suzy (1.5). We were taken to a room where, behind this big glass window, were rows of cribs. From one of them, a nurse extracted this... thing. It was pink mostly, with bluish bits, and my memory insists it was slimy; but we were assured that with a bit of time it would grow into a sister, like Suzy, but smaller. We were a bit dubious, but eventually it came into our house and grew up, into what is now known as Dr. Mary Lowrey Hamrick, sports psychologist. Nothing like a big brother for embarrassing memories, right, Mary?
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