Saturday, October 11, 2014

The world according to the blue collar migrant

The words "migrant" and "workers" evoke in our minds, berry pickers and meat packers who cross America's south western borders by legal or illegal means, to make seasonal living in minimum wage conditions.

However, when we use "blue collar" and "migrant worker" together, we come up with a near-empty canvas, because in the history of American labor, blue collar workers have typically been members of a settled community of residents, a local, stable pool of high-school graduates, from whom a Ford, GM or 3M type corporations draw to employ in their factories.

But in a economy that has been affected by globalization, many blue collar workers find themselves migrating from their home states to find jobs elsewhere, to another state, where they live like migrants, i.e. as overnighters with no stable housing or communities available to provide a supportive structure.

Blue collar migrant workers are the subject matter of a new riveting film called The Overnighters. It's a Fast Food Nation gone native.

The overnighters in this case are workers who flock to North Dakota which has been experiencing an oil boom for the last few years, if only because oil is fossil fuel and is not a fungible goods. But as news report after news report has documented, the oil-boon is proving to be a short and long term curse for North Dakota. 

Workers have migrated from all over the country to earn a livelihood and they have been single males with broken families, very little education and some, appallingly, have criminal backgrounds. Furthermore, cities in North Dakota have not planned ahead of time to provide secure housing for the migrant workers, and as the film tells us, many of them end up experiencing homelessness.

The central character of The Overnighters is a local padre who provides shelter to the migrants and earn the locals' displeasure in the process.

Prophets of peace

On the heels of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded respectively to Pakistan's Malala Yousufzahi and India's Kailash Satyarthi, both of whom work for the liberation of children from various kinds of exploitation (labor and sexual): Three excellent films by documentarian Errol Morris on Liberian Leymah Gbowee, winner (jointly) of the 2013 Peace Prize, Bob Geldof, the musician who preceded Bono in raising billions for food security in Africa, and Lech Walesa, Polish electrician, labor organizer and leader of Poland's famous union, Solidarity, and winner of the 1983 Peace Prize. 

Three cheers to the principles of peace and non-violence.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Technology novels

The ten top technology novels as listed by PC Magazine.

And this is my shortest blog on record.