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Ruby Tuesday – Walking The Steel. August 16, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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My job, highway and bridge layout, ranges from yawns, generally plentiful during the more mundane aspects of rural road surveys, to screams, which can come fast and furiously when in the throes of building a big, complicated bridge.

I’m presently wrestling with a monster, a disintegrating concrete span which looms in a great curve over an iron railroad bridge which in turn spans the concrete channel of the Hoosic river in its transit of the city of North Adams.  It’s a virtual Escher’s World of crumbling concrete pillars being “resurfaced” (yeah, and good luck with that! ) and redecked with new steel beams and a new concrete deck.

We’re at the point now of setting the beams on the east side (Stage II) and they are, you guessed it, RED:

The iron workers scurry about up there seemingly unphased;  I, on the other hand, move with a great deal of care and caution, much to their amusement:

That’s not me, but you get the idea – and it gets a good bit higher by the time it crosses the railroad tracks.

I’ll be spending the better part of the next few weeks walking the steel, with the spaces between the beams being gradually filled in with “pans” for the upcoming concrete pours.

For more Things Ruby, visit Mary over at Work of the Poet!

Ruby Tuesday! January 27, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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Starting today, with its very own category, to make finding past iterations easier.

A bridge on one of my jobs:

bridge in huntington

A barn in Conway, still fancy from the season past:

barn wreath

The historic Odd Fellows Building in Buckland:

oddfellows building

OK, so that was just a teenie-weenie bit rubeenie…

…And me, caught in The Act by Frau Biergut, my climbing companion:

th doc on ice

Thanks to Mary at Work of the Poet for this recurring meme!

Finding Truth In The Disinformation Age. June 5, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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These days I rarely blog about “politics and society,” as so many others do it so much better.

But I’m presently engaged in a “bridge building project” which has me digging pretty deeply to find Common Ground on which to build.

Because you know, if you start building a bridge from two shores in different universes, they ain’t gonna meet on this Earth.

If you’re among the handful of folks who regularly read this blog (and you are, aren’tcha?) you know that I’m trying to engage the Anti Anti-War-Protest Protesters who spend a part of their Saturday standing in front of a bank (symbolism, mayhaps?) across the street from the Greenfield Town Common, where an anti-war “peace vigil” has held sway for something like the last six years.

And while I’m ideologically aligned with the Peace People, I’m spending my Saturday mornings in front of the bank, trying to get to know the folks who believe differently than I do, trying to understand their positions, trying to ascertain why they believe what they believe.

And it’s a real trial not getting my skivvies in a bunch, trying to stay calm and open, to fish for Common Waters rather than jumping on everything that’s said which sounds absurd to me.

This, I think, is important: the desire for commonality, the vision of our shared interests in the face of a civilizational structure which treats both Us and Them as grist for the mill of Corporate wealth aggregation, which needs to keep us divided lest we ever vote in our common self-interests.

But I struggle when I’m confronted with Good Americans who consistently vote against their own self-interests, your interests, my interests, my children’s interests because they’re operating in a paradigm informed by the disinformation of the spineless and complicit Main Stream Media and the intentional misinformation of “news outlets” like Fox News Network.

As an example of this, I recently cited an assertion from R, the on-sight organizer of the pro-war protesters (for lack of another simple explanation of their intent) that US Forces had found over fifty of Saddam’s nuclear weapons in Iraq.

This past weekend I sought a clarification, and he did indeed correct me – he had said, or meant to say, “over five hundred…”

Um… OK.

But since nobody in their right mind would make this shit up, I asked him for a source, so, you know, I could learn about it first-hand. Because I’m a Primary-Source kinda guy.

So he suggested that I just Google “Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq,” and the Truth would be right there in black and white.

On the second or third page of Google-search results.

So, you know, I did.

And indeed I found what he had pointed me at, at the bottom of page fifteen, the hundred and fiftieth entry in a list composed of the thoughts and knowledge of many experts on the subjects and some pundits of either ideological persuasion, with the experts UNANIMOUSLY coming to the conclusion that there were no currently usable chemical or biological weapons in Iraq,

And not a HINT that Saddam had or had ever had nuclear weapons, or anything even close.

Yet there was Google Result #150, a YouTubed clip of the illustrious Rick Santorum, R. Pennsylvania, reading cherry-picked excerpts from a 2006 report which described Hussein’s degraded and ineffectual arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, abandoned in the desert and hastily buried in pits as the Iraqi army retreated in the face of Iranian forces in the late 1980s.

Now I know some of you are doubtless laughing hysterically at the mention of Rick Santorum’s name, he being long-since exposed and dismissed as being a Captain of Douche-Baggery, a pariah even to the Republican Party hard-liners because every time he opened his mouth a stream of indefensible intellectual diarrhea poured out. Let’s agree to leave the Poisoning of The Well to those of the Rovian persuasion and cut to the chase of Information v. Disinformation, shall we?

The question in my mind is, why would ANYBODY of reasonable intelligence bypass, overlook, ignore the writings and opinions of government panels, United Nations weapons inspectors, the Pentagon, the Defense Department, the State Department, expert witnesses and on-the-ground investigators, to settle on and cling to a contrary opinion voiced by an ill-informed Politician, for God’s sake, reading snippets of Old News cherry-picked from a voluminous document of public record which flatly contradicted his very public conclusions?

And how could anybody ignore or discount the same-day rebuttals and refutations which were generated by Senator Santorum’s ill-advised grasping at the proverbial straws, the same ones which would shortly break his political back:

I’ll tell you how.

It’s a kind of intellectual “fundamentalism” akin to the type which prompts Radical Islamists to pick through their Koran looking for reasons to kill Americans, or allows “Christian” Fundamentalists to discriminate against gays and lesbians based on a couple of sentences in the Old Testament which were thereafter repudiated by Jesus of Nazareth.

It strikes me as nothing less than sad that, two years after this garbage was debunked and buried by thinking people of all persuasions, there are still a significant number of Americans who anchor their fears and hatred in this cesspool of desperate ignorance.

Stupidity is genetic, and despite its ugliness, ought to be understood as an involuntary condition, the victims of which must be held blameless for their cerebral inabilities.

But ignorance is a state of mind which can be remedied by a liberal application of facts and information, and ought not to be accepted by society as an immutable condition, or held harmless for the suffering it causes both its practitioners and the people whose lives they affect.

And willful ignorance is an insult to any God who claims to be merciful and just, and an affront to a Civil Society which depends on its People to direct its course.

I don’t stand for an imposition of beliefs, but rather for a sharing of knowledge in service of bettering the world in which we live. And I’ll stand for it as long as I breathe.

Teach me, people.

But don’t bullshit me.

“Democracy without information creates the illusion of popular control while actually enhancing the power of the privileged…” – Bill Moyers

Another Christian Ally December 20, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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Just plugged into another node in the network of Progressive voices – Tom over at Reflections On Faith. Check him out. He’s brilliant, and exactly the kind of person who will build the bridge between Progressives and our Christian allies.

Thanks to FranIAm for helping me make this connection. You make me hopeful, Gurrrl!

Busy With Division November 5, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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For some people, “othering ” is big business.

Consider, if you will, any Main Stream Media circus, and let’s narrow it down to a Sunday morning talking-head show, where pundits and commentators with differing perspectives come together to find common ground gouge each others eyes out with forks.

The scene:

The “green room,” where guests chow down on donuts and scratch their balls (or adjust their boobs) while they’re waiting to go “on-air.”


“Say, Cal, I really enjoyed your piece in The Post. Lots of good points there, I agreed with a lot of what you had to say.”


“Gee, thanks Bob. Where did you disagree? Perhaps we can discuss it.”

Producer walks in and overhears.

“Now boys, boys! Knock it off! We have a show to do in five minutes!”

Ah, the Big Business of Othering. The box-office take of a Heavy-Weight Match wedded to the spectacle of a bitch-slap ass-kickin’ cat fight.

Bread and Circus.

It’s not much of a stretch to anyone in possession of that rare combination, a television and a functioning brain, to imagine that there are plenty of people in the broadcast industry, and plenty in the Political Thought industry, who promote the head-on collisions they bring us in the guise of “dialog” on topics of presumed importance to Americans.

And We The People, in hugely embarrassing numbers, lap it up like dogs on puke.

So it was with some interest that I listened to Bob Beckel, a Democrat and long time political operative, and Cal Thomas, a Republican and a syndicated columnist, discuss their recently released book detailing their experiences and perceptions as frequent guests on the talking-head circuit.

Yup, it’s 99 and 44/100% pure Bread and Circus. Agreement is anathema, consensus is cordially invited to Get The Fuck Out.

The book: “Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America.

From the authors’ descriptions, it promises to be an exposé about the quest for ratings and their concomitant advertising dollars by peddling division and disagreement like they were selling hot dogs at a home game.

I find it interesting to hear these voices form different camps building this particular bridge at this particular time. And I wonder if they’re the tip of a whistle-blowing iceberg, or just a couple of shrewd operators running with their noses up in the air, following the scent of an easy dollar.

At any rate, these two “gentlemen” (and I use the term loosely,) being insiders in the scene and having their respective coteries of followers, might just introduce the concept of “othering” to a phalanx or two of Fox aficionados, they being the audience most likely to be regaled with the frequent fisticuffs of these socio-political pugilists.

I wonder how many will get it, will understand that they’re being played, that the M$M is peddling moats while our Country need bridges.

Only time will tell.

Bridges October 26, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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This older guy at work has said some angry things in casual conversations in which I was a participant, things with racial overtones, things about immigrants and liberals and fags and “welfare queens,” things which sounded both learned and internalized.

At first I was pretty taken aback, even though those attitudes aren’t at all uncommon on construction sites, where people without a hell of a lot of education bust their asses and never seem to get ahead. Frankly, it’s not hard to see why many become bitter, especially as they get older and begin to appreciate how little they have to look forward to.

Add to that the usual construction site boom-box, providing your typical right-wing “morning show” background banter deriding the poor as the reason for these working people’s struggles, and you get a LOT of bitterness, hopelessness and pent-up resentment.

I feel it too. I feel myself getting older, getting tired, being worn down, with a Grand Total of $12,000 in my retirement account, and it makes me angry and resentful, but not at the poor.

Because I know where the money is really going.

So having had a semi-recent epiphany about building bridges instead of arguing for my very different point of view, I’ve been trying harder to find the commonalities between the lives and struggles of the people around me and my own long, up-hill swim. I’ve talked to this older man about what he’d like to do when he retires, how his (married) children are doing, his wife’s health problems, insurance hassles, the price of prescriptions… you name it. Life. The Commonalities of Life.

And with the Door open, he listened when I talked about the small percentage of our money which goes to help the millions of poor people in our country and compared it to the very large percentage which is being accumulated by the Filthy Fucking Rich, by people who own vacation homes in Paradise and private jets and get the kind of health care his wife needs, health care she’ll never get, health care she and uncounted others will die without. He listened when I talked about the Social Politics of Distraction, about how we’re constantly being pitted against each other.

Today this Loving Husband and Father pulled up along side me in his truck and stopped with the window down, just looking at me. His eyes were unaccustomedly soft and clear, his demeanor resolute. It felt a little awkward, a little strange, until he spoke.

“You know,” he said, “I think you’re right. I think we all better stick together, or we’re gonna get screwed.”

I nodded in agreement. I didn’t smile; it was all I could do to choke back the tears of gratitude.

“Think about voting for Kucinich in the Primaries,” I managed. “He’s on our side.”

He drew back a bit and scowled.


A long, up-hill swim, indeed.