Monday, November 27, 2006

Hard Work?

What is it?

By Richard E. Noble

What is “hard work”? My experiences in “talking” about hard work are that it always ends up in a debate; and the usual result of the conversation is the diplomatic conclusion that “everybody who works, works hard”. I don’t agree. All work isn’t “hard work”. The world needs a definition of “hard work” as opposed to “work work” or “just another day at the office” work or “devising a theory of relativity” work or even “good work”.
Oprah Winphrey recently said that she thinks that she may be the hardest working black woman in America - I think that she said this in response to a supposed claim made by James Brown some time in the past, that he was the hardest working black man in America.
John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world; yet I’ve read that he carried a brown paper bag lunch to “work” with him everyday and sat at his desk to eat it. He claimed that he “worked hard”.
Many years ago I read where the government was trying to devise a comparable pay scale trying to equate the stenographers pool with the motor poor. I don’t think that they were successful.
I have always associated hard work with “the Old Man River” notion - you know, “tote that barge and lift that bale”. In my very brief experience in studying physics I learned that “work” as defined by physics involved moving something - lifting, carrying, humping, huffing, puffing, digging, bending, rowing, pulling, dragging, chopping, pounding, scrapping, picking, climbing ... these things mean “work” to me. Sweating is often a part of working hard. When we say something is easy, we say - no sweat. That’s right - if you are not sweating - it can’t be considered all that hard or “hard work”. But on the other hand just because you are sweating while doing something, it does not follow that you are necessarily performing some sort of “hard work” - for example having sex in a sauna or relaxing in a tanning salon.
In my life I have had jobs that I didn’t want to do; that I hated to do; that I didn’t want to get up and go to each morning but many of these jobs weren’t hard. Some of them were very, very easy - I just didn’t like doing them which made them very, very difficult…
On the other hand, I have had jobs that were extremely challenging and terribly physical - but I liked doing them. But even though I liked doing them, they were still hard. They were “hard work”. And anybody who tried to do one of these jobs would admit that it involved “hard work”. So what is hard work?
When I started out in the restaurant business; I was the dishwasher at a very busy restaurant. Being the dishwasher at this particular restaurant involved bending, scrubbing, pushing, moving, standing, humping - and at the end of a long evening dragging a huge garbage can through the kitchen, out the back door, down some steps, across a parking lot, then hefting it up to a height above my head and dumping it into a big dumpster. It was hard work.
Six months later, I was managing that restaurant. As a manager I often worked eighty to a hundred hours a week. It was a long, tiresome, fatiguing job. I considered it difficult and challenging but doing the dishes was harder work. There is no doubt in my mind. Eventually I got paid three or four times the dishwasher’s salary to be the manager; but as the dishwasher I worked harder. As the manager, I did a lot of thinking, planning and organizing - but that was not like humping, hefting, and scrubbing.
In my working career I have done farm work of all kinds. I picked oranges, apples, peaches, grapes, cherries; I’ve dug holes for construction companies; I’ve tonged oysters, drove a delivery truck, unloaded freight cars, picked cucumbers and humped sides of beef. On the other hand I’ve studied books at a University; I’ve managed businesses; I’ve worked as a reporter and journalist; I’ve published my own small newspaper; I’ve written and published my own books and I’ve owned and operated my own small retail businesses. All of these jobs were difficult and challenging - but they weren’t all “hard work”. They were all work. I did them all for a salary or a paycheck or a profit - or no profit. But they weren’t all equally hard or “hard work”.
I can still manage a restaurant; I can still write a book - but I can’t make a days pay tonging oysters or picking oranges or unloading freight cars. I might be able to wash the dishes in a not so busy restaurant - but I could never do what I did back forty years ago at that busy restaurant in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida - You know that place where all the rich people live. I remember working at that job for one hundred hours and taking home one hundred dollars.
I think what you get paid for doing something also reflects on its “hardness” or softness. Any job seems to be much harder if you feel that you are being underpaid; and conversely even a very difficult job seems like “no sweat” if you feel that you are being well compensated. Interesting to note - no one is ever “overpaid”. We are all often underpaid but no one is ever overpaid. We are compensated fairly, well compensated, sufficiently rewarded; even John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and today’s Oprah Winphry feel that they are “justly” compensated or rewarded but never have any of them ever been “overpaid”. I have never been “overpaid” myself - as I see it.
I have also had the experience of doing the same work but with different people or in different locations and in one instance the job is rather easy and in another quite difficult.
I have also found that wanting to do something and being forced to do something contribute to the rate of difficulty or “hardness”.
I have always liked the story of the runaway slave who was captured and brought before the judge. After questioning the slave the judge summed up what he had learned; “So you have admitted that your owner was a kind man; you have testified that he always treated you fairly; you have told us that you have never been beaten or abused; nor were you ever starved or not fed or clothed properly. What I can not understand is why you ran away.”
“Well, Your Honor, as I understand, the position is still available if you would like to apply,” the slave responded.
Another thing that makes a job difficult in my opinion is the fact that this job is all that you are capable of doing, it has no future, and you can’t do any better - either because you don’t have the education, you don’t have the legal status or you lack the ability either mental or physical. In other words this is as far as you can go in this life. You have hit your glass ceiling, your education ceiling, or your natural ability ceiling or your credit card ceiling. This circumstance can make almost any job “hard”.
So, hard work has to do with physical effort, sweat, amount of pay, freedom of choice, environment, co-workers, and hope for the future. So if you are working in this dirty, horrid, filthy location, lifting and humping your ass off for no money, for some abusive SOB, at a job with no future that you can’t afford to quit because you will starve to death if you don’t have the money, and nobody working around you cares or feels that you deserve any better position than what you have - you are working hard.
I don’t think that John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie or Oprah Winfrey qualify under any of the above criteria for “hard work” ... sorry.

Monday, November 20, 2006

William Jefferson Clinton
(President from 1992-200 1)

Biographical Essay

By Richard E. Noble
Bill Clinton has the unique distinction of being the first president ever in the history of the United States to be younger than me. God, I hate that! I am of the generation who vowed never to trust anybody over thirty. Now I don’t trust anyone who is not over sixty five. He is also the first Democratic president since F.D.R. to be elected for a second term. Clinton was definitely not one of our X-war hero/general presidents. I am sure that he was probably “shot down” many times in Europe and more than likely by any number of little “spit-fires”, but none of this won him the Distinguished Cross though I am sure it “wounded” his pride on several different occasions. Bill Clinton is also the first president to get a blow-job in the oval office (and possibly the Red Room, Blue Room, and Green Room) and while still engaged in conversation on the telephone. (I wonder who he was talking to? Probably Hilary.) He was obviously not the first person to look the American people in the eye and lie (I wonder? Could he have been getting a blow job at that time also? Wow, something to think about, isn’t it?). Lying is really a very old presidential political tradition.
Clinton also has to be the first president to be investigated for his entire eight years as president (Travelgate, Whitewater, Lewinski etc.). I always wondered what this was all about. His presidency is unique in that he didn’t get caught doing something that then led to an investigation. He was always being investigated in order to try and get him caught doing anything that might lead to an investigation. And like his democratic predecessor, Jimmy Carter, he may have brought it all onto himself by inviting a special prosecutor’s investigation all the while proclaiming - Bring ‘em on. I Have nothing to hide - Gary Heart the second.
We could look at Clinton as one in a long line of the Hatfield and McCoy vendetta that has been going on between the Right and Left in American politics since George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But without going that far back, let’s just review slightly.
While Bill was championing the leftist, anti-Vietnam war position on his Rhodes scholarship to Oxford in England, his future bride was serving as one of the new young Turk-ettes investigating, and digging up dirt for the Independent counselors working on the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal.
The Watergate scandal, stems back to Nixon’s active participation in the McCarthy investigations. Bernstein, of the infamous Woodward and Bernstein, watched his dad’s legal and political career go down the drain at the hands of Nixon, McCarthy, Cohn and the boys. Bernstein’s father was a promising young lawyer who defended many a “communist” at those now very questionable hearings. Bernstein’s dad ended up owning and operating a dry cleaners in an unsubstantial neighborhood around D.C, or Baltimore, as opposed to his probable aspirations as a famous something or other in the Democratic Party.
McCarthyism stems back to the World War II battles between the Communists and the Nazis. In our own country those who leaned towards the Fascist or Nazi dictators were “right”. Those who leaned towards Stalin and Marxist Socialism were “left”. McCarthy-ism was really a “rightist” tactic to get the Government diverted from the “pro-Communist” and anti-Nazi leanings of the never ending Roosevelt and Truman administrations.
Clinton, while under continuous and constant legal scrutiny and investigation, along with sporadic but seemingly ceaseless sexual encounter, somehow managed to preside over THE most successful period of economic prosperity in the history of U.S. Government. Every biography that I have read mentions this fact in one way or another. So I presume that it is true or at least undeniable. This leads one to wonder, was it the constant investigation or the ceaseless sexual engagement? Like Lincoln in regards to Grant’s Whiskey drinking (Send all my other Generals a case) I’m inclined to send all of our future presidents a “case” of Monica. If it were the investigating that provided the positive economic stimulus then I would presume that Nixon would have done considerably better. Therefore the results of my scientific investigations and research conclude that presiding presidents clearly need a blow job every now and then in order to boost economic prosperity. I don’t know if it is necessary that they be engaged in telephone conversation at the time, but this could be studied in the future.
Clinton also becomes the second president in U.S. History to be impeached. For whatever reasons Richard Nixon lost that honor because the Republicans at that time felt that impeachment proceedings would hamper the necessary operation of the Government. I guess that at the time of the Clinton Administration the Republicans felt that the government was doing well enough to withstand an impeachment process. It is also interesting to note that Republicans felt that this impeachment for Clinton was permissible even when they knew that they didn’t have the votes to sustain it in the Senate, but in the case of Nixon where it was a sure thing in the House and the Senate they decided that the American people and Government couldn’t withstand the disgrace.
Andrew Johnson is the only other president to undergo an impeachment proceeding. He was also impeached but not put out of office. He was also a Democrat who was being challenged by right wing extremists. Clinton’s childhood background leads me to only one conclusion - Clinton was poor, white, southern, trailer trash. His mother was married to a traveling salesman who turned out to be a bigamist. His step father owned a used car lot, drank excessively and beat his wife. Bill, it seems, had to physically protect his mother on occasions. His mother went to school nights and eventually became a nurse. This is a pretty sorry background for a president of the United States I suppose, but we had others. Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson both come immediately to mind. All three of these presidents had very strong Right-wing opposition, and all three stood up to the challenge, and all three were “good ole boys” from the South.
Jackson was as tough as nails, but common folk loved and admired him. Johnson was also as tough as nails but he was not so loved or admired. He had a real hard go, but eventually was re-elected to the Senate and was welcomed back to the floor with flowers and cheers from his fellow Senators and the gallery.
For Bill Clinton and his Mrs., we all know, to the distress of many, that it ain’t over, ‘till it’s over. Mrs. Clinton has already returned to Washington as a Senator. And Bill, “America’s first Black president”, as I heard him referred to on TV by a black man at a black political forum, has opened some kind of political office in Harlem. Yes, HARLEM.
To tell the truth, I don’t really believe that Bill Clinton is black. I’m for an investigation.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mien Kampf

Chapter 6

By Richard E. Noble

In chapter nine of Mein Kampf, Adolf meets his initial backers, and eventually becomes a member of the ‘German Worker’s Party’. The two hopefuls who were attempting to start this party were Anton Drexler, ‘a simple and sickly man who had been declared unfit for military service’, and an advocate of nationalism for the German worker, and Herr Harrer, a journalist.
Adolf was still homeless at this time, living in an army barracks feeding the rats every morning pieces of his left over bread. Adolf clearly had little respect for this German Workers’ Party but in his humble way he decided to bestow on them his divinely inspired greatness and potential leadership.
“… I had been accepted as a member of the German Workers’ Party ... I was actually more than astonished at this manner of winning members [He had to come to a meeting and explaine to the other members why he wished to be a member of their group.] and I did not know whether to be annoyed or to laugh at it. I was just about to send the gentlemen my written reply, when curiosity gained the upper hand and I decided to appear on the day fixed in order to define my reasons orally ... Terrible, terrible; this was club making of the worst kind and manner. And this club I was now to join?”
To Adolf this was a group of inept, poor stumble bums. It almost seems ludicrous, Adolf Hitler, already a legend in his own mind - certainly a man of classist, elitist mentality - joining the German Workers Party. Adolf was certainly no worker in his mind. These people were simple stupid peasants or workers, but to whom would he go? The intellectual crowd certainly didn’t and wouldn’t accept him. He didn’t have any money; therefore he couldn’t start his campaign at the local country club. He spoke the words of the peasants. He had the attitude of a street fighter. He had the prejudices of the poor and uneducated. He didn’t like the college crowd, and felt rejected by the wealthy. What could he do but stoop to the level of the poor, but stupid working class. He appears to me to be a kind of a poor, homeless, broke William F. Buckley. But he was only William F. Buckley on the inside, on the outside he was more of a Jimmy Hoffa, or Jimmy Breslin type personality, rough, gruff, and out-spoken.
“... I do not belong to those who start something one day in order to end it again the next day ... I knew that for me this would be a decision forever ... Even in those days I had always had an instinctive aversion to people who start something without, however, also carrying it out; I loathed these jacks of all trades. I considered the activity of these people worse than doing nothing.”
And we already know what he thought of those who did nothing.
“… The longer I tried to think about it, the more the conviction grew in my mind that just here, out of such a small movement, some day the rise of the nation could be prepared, but never from the political parliamentarian parties which clung much too much to the old ideas or even shared the advantages of the new regime. For what was to be announced now was a new view of life and not a new election slogan ... that I had no means and was poor seemed to me the most easily endurable, but it was more difficult that I simply belonged to the great crowd of nameless people, that I was one among the millions who are allowed to continue to live by sheer accident, or who are called from life again without even their surroundings condescending to take notice of it. To this came the difficulty which was bound to result from my lack of schools ... To these ‘educated’ ones the greatest empty-head, provided he is only wrapped in a sufficient number of certificates, is worth more than even the most clever boy who does not possess these priceless paper bags …”
So Adolf would stoop to take this simple group of working peasants to greatness by bestowing upon them the wonder and graceful benevolence of his leadership, and he would show those rich, wealthy, and educated who would reject him, what a foolish mistake it was on their part not to recognize his greatness just because he had no money and no education.
“… in those days I still believed people to be better than they unfortunately are, for the greater part, in sober reality. This, of course, as everywhere else, lights up the exceptions much more brightly. Thus I learned to distinguish all the more between the eternal ‘pupils’ and the really competent …”
So by lingering in the camp of the poor, stupid worker, he realized how brightly his lamp glowed, and thus it was really a good experience for one such as him to be cloaked by the circumstance of capricious life, in the temporary garb of the lowly.
“... Thus I registered as a member of the German Workers’ Party and received a provisional membership ticket with the number seven ...”
Lucky number seven!? And what a lucky break for Germany and the world at large.
Vanity! Ego! Self indulgence! All too human and very undemonesque. Adolf, like many a man living under a bridge somewhere today, along with most of you and I, thinks of himself in terms of unfulfilled greatness. Oh but someday ... Oh but someday, the world will hear from me! And then will they ever be ... sorry!

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Little Friend



When I was little, I had a friend.

We said that we would be friends,
… until the end.

We didn’t lie.

And when he died,
… I cried and I cried
… and I cried.

Richard E. Noble