Life in these United States

Some time back I heard some undocumented “factoid” that half the population of the U.S. was something like two paychecks away from being homeless. These days that seems more real that apocryphal.

For Richard Crane, the “new normal” in the labor market began when he was laid off from a New Jersey battery plant in the summer of 2006.

Mr. Crane had been earning more than $100,000 a year operating heavy machinery at Delco, a former unit of General Motors. He worked there for 23 years, since graduating from high school. But when he lost his job he was thrust into a netherworld of part-time gigs: working the registers at Taco Bell, organizing orders at McDonald’s, whatever he could find.

“I thought it would be temporary,” says Mr. Crane, 49 years old. Three years later, he is selling outdoor furniture by day and pumping gas by night, while worrying about his skills atrophying and spending scant time with his teenage son. He makes about a third of his former pay.

For more on this, I refer you to today’s Wall Street Journal:

Federal figures on the underemployed, however, don’t count that second group — those who are overqualified for their jobs. Still, the government’s broadest measure of labor underutilization — known as the U6 — has more than doubled in the two years since the recession began to 17.5%, and it is up from 12% just a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that nearly one in five people are either unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or “marginally attached” — they want jobs but haven’t searched in at least a month. It also counts “discouraged workers” who have stopped searching.

I know that this is scary sh#t, and well, I don’t know what can be done about it, but truthfully, I’d feel a lot safer if we spent less money fighting two overseas wars that we simply can never win, and brought those folk home so that we could re-invest that same amount of money here at home.

No, I’m not an isolationist, and I know that we need to protect ourselves, but seriously, we are really only hurting ourselves.

The Perfessor

To Infinity and Beyond!

outerspcae_No, really we mean it…

I know that Walt and others who follow this blog are addicted to crappy TV American-Idol-type vote-and-release “variety” shows, well, I came across this blog posting on The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog page, and I thought that it was not only interesting, but fairly ridiculous as well. According to the post, NBC’s America’s Got Talent TV show has very specific wording in the release papers the contestants are asked to sign. The contract reads, that their performance could be “edited, in all media, throughout the universe, in perpetuity.”

Like I and the WSJ you may rightly ask, “Throughout the universe?” Is that really necessary?

Apparently, the lawyers think so (Hey we call our beauty pageants Miss Universe, so why shouldn’t se sign contracts that ripple throughout all media everywhere in the known (and probably) unknown universe. I just can’t wait until someone discovers the multiverse, and copyrights stuff in not only alternate dimensions, but backwards into the past as well — what? you are going to allow for FTL travel, alternate worlds and leave out time travlel? Not very imaginative are you?)

Well according to the article:

Entertainment outlets seem to think so. Searcey writes experts in contract drafting (lucky souls that they are) say lawyers are trying to ensure that with the proliferation of new outlets — including mobile-phone screens, Twitter, online video sites and the like — they cover all possible venues from which their clients can derive income, even those in outer space. (FremantleMedia, one of the producers of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” declined to comment on its contracts.)

Searcey writes that the space and time continuum has extended to other realms outside the arts, including pickles. A 189-word sentence in a September agreement between Denver-based Spicy Pickle Franchising Inc. and investment bank Midtown Partners & Co. — which has helped raise capital for the sandwich and pickle shops dotted across the region — unconditionally releases Spicy Pickle from all claims “from the beginning of time” until the date of the agreement. “We’re trying to figure out how to cover every possible base as quickly as possible,” says Marc Geman, chief executive officer of Spicy Pickle. “When you start at the beginning of time, that is pretty clear.”

Needless to say, there are still some legal experts who rail against such silliness in contract language as being both imprecise and unnecessary.

Ken Adams, a Garden City, N.Y., attorney and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who advocates for clarity in contract language, says references to outer space and the end time are silly.

To me it sounds like a 10-year-old calling “Dibs for all times” on the recliner chair, and expect it to hold.

But then, I drink a lot.

The Perfessor

Baseball the way it SHOULD be played!

If you are a Mets fan (as I “technically speaking” am. This item from today’s Wall Street Journal will either be the funniest thing you see to day, or the saddest.


The Perfessor