Monday, October 09, 2006

Natality and the Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are appearing in the MLB playoffs for the first time since 1987 (I was 5 years old). Since winning the division title in '87, the team had a sucessful year in '88 leading the AL East for most of the season before entering a late season slump. In '89, the Tigers held the worst record in baseball with a 59-103 record. In '90 - '93, the team began to improve thanks to Fielder's bat, but the team lacked pitching and the players were beginning to age. From '94-'05, the Tigers did not post a winning record.
However, this year, 2006, the Tigers have made it at least to the American League Championship Series.
The '06 Tigers are a young team. With the likes of Granderson (MLB debut in '04), Monroe (MLB debut '01), Thames (MLB debut '02), Verlander (rookie), Zumaya (rookie), Bonderman (MLB debut '03), Robertson (MLB debut '02), Maroth (MLB debut '02), and Miner (rookie) among others, the Tigers are a team that may be less experienced than other teams, but "every newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew."
This reminds me of Hannah Arendt's notion of natality (contra Heidegger's notion of mortality). Arendt writes of the "human condition of natality" is "the new beginning inherent in birth [that] can make itself felt in the world only because the newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew".
"The miracle that saves the world, the realm of human affairs, from its normal, 'natural' ruin is ultimately the fact of natality, in which the faculty of action is ontologically rooted. It is, in other words, the birth of new men and the new beginning, the action they are capable of by virtue of being born. Only the full experience of this capacity can bestow upon human affairs faith and hope...It is this faith in and hope for the world that found perhaps its most glorious and most succinct expression in the few words with which the Gospels announced their 'glad tidings': 'A child has been born unto us.'"
These newcomers on the Tigers give me faith and hope and they have brought and are capable of bringing new beginnings to my favorite baseball team. Let's go Tigers!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

With Dick in Hand: Dick Devos, Michigan, and Economic Masturbation

With mid-term elections coming up on November 7, I'm sure the gubernatorial elections in America's high five (Michigan) are becoming more and more ominous and the reminders to vote are increasing toward ubiquity. Thankfully, I am in Toronto and no one will be riding me for not voting and then telling me that since I don't vote, I can't complain. First, if you vote for a candidate or a proposition, and said candidate or proposition loses, what good is it to have "a right to complain"? Exactly who do you complain to? Why do I have to have a "right" in order to complain? Do people under 21 have no right to complain? If in good conscience you can't vote for any candidate in a presidential election, it would seem that you have legitimate grounds for complaint.
Secondly, I'm not a political romantic. America, Michigan, and Grant Township will always do things that I disagree with whether I vote or not. You can't say you are politically active simply because you fill in a dot next to someone's name. But because you filled in that dot and I didn't, you have the right to complain and I don't? Politics aren't going to change the world for the better. Get off your tuckus more than just to travel down to the polls and actually do something to change the world. Ways of life only change in living...and it begins at home. Because politics aren't going to change the world for the better and, if even it could, there is no one I can support and still sleep at night, I'm not going to vote and I think I have the "right" to complain.
Sorry about the pseudo-rant, I'm sure I will be lambasted by the "politically-aware" readers (oh, I forgot, no one reads this blog anymore).
My actual intent for this post was to talk about Dick Devos and his "The Michigan Turn Around Plan". So, basically, said plan can be (and has been by Devos himself) divided into four sections or "missions" (which are actually one "mission", but enough of these parenthetical statements); 1) Create a Job Climate Second to None, 2) Overhaul State Government, 3) Diversify our Economy, and 4) Conquer the International Marketplace.
Let's begin at the beginning. Dick Devos wants to create a job climate second to none. How (besides getting rid of the Business Tax), you ask? I'll focus on a few "jobs" that Devos says he hopes to do. I'll start off with one I like, Mission #1 Job#2 focuses on helping small businesses. Which I like, but helping them how? Implicitly, it seems that he wants to "help" small businesses by making them big businesses. Nevermind, I don't like it anymore.
Mission #1 Job #2 - Devos wants to "Improve Education: Give Our Kids the Skills They Need". I agree. Improve education and give them the skills they need! Right on! Wait a minute. Devos is reducing education to economics. Give them the skills they need so that they "are able to meet the requirements of the 21st Century economy - and get high quality jobs." But if everyone is getting this "improved education", can everyone get these "high quality jobs"? Who is going to bag groceries or clean toilets? We are already keeping kid's from flooding the job market by keeping them in school until they are 18. What would happen if they get the high quality jobs when they are finally released into the job market? What would happen to all the people who are, in the job market, obtaining the skills they need and working their way up to those jobs?
Mission #1 Job #5 - Protect and Promote Michigan's Environment. Sounds good. Again, I agree. But why Mr. Devos? "I believe our environment is an engine for job creation and quality of life." This is the point where I hang my head.
Let's move to Mission #2, "Overhaul State Government". You may be thinking of that good ol' Sesame Street (ADD-inducing) shorts and singing to yourself, "one of these things is not like the others". The other three are about the economy, this one is about the government. But you would be wrong because "The Governor's Job is Jobs" and as our Governor, "Devos would be the CEO of Michigan's economic efforts."
Maybe we should move along to Mission #3 - "Diversify our Economy". Here he talks of universities, but again he is only interested in how it will help the economy; "I will get more job-creating ideas from our universities to the marketplace."
In Job #14, Devos wants to "Support Michigan Agriculture" and he "knows that we can
protect the environment and grow Michigan’s family farms at the same time." I like what I hear. Wait...what does he mean by "grow"? What is all this talk of "Agriculture business leaders will always have a seat at my table" and "agriculture industry" and "Michigan’s agriculture businesses"? I thought we were talking about Michigan's family farms not Michigan's agribusinesses?
I don't even want to talk about Mission #4 - "Conquer the International Marketplace". It just sounds ridiculous. But he talks about Fair Trade in Job #17, my interest is peaked. "Enforce trade agreements. Michigan workers can compete anywhere, but we need a level playing
field. When these agreements are not enforced, our job providers struggle, and we lose jobs"... "Stand up to countries whose laws discriminate against American-made products"... "Fight for the protection of intellectual property rights"..."Stop currency manipulation that harms our Michigan made products." What does this have to do with doing justice to those who are mistreated because of their status as a farmer in a periphery country being trammeled by the global capitalist economy?

It seems that Dick Devos believes two things. 1. Everything (education, agriculture, government, the environment...etc.) is a means to the end of "stimulating" the economy. 2. If the economy is being "stimulated", then everything is working as it should be. This may be too simplistic, but I don't care. I'm glad that I can complain. All I'm saying is that when I come home I don't want to catch you all with Dick in Hand "stimulating" the economy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Apparently no one checks my blog anymore, but I don't really care. If I keep writing posts on this blog, is it like talking to myself? If it is, I don't really care.
Anyway, I started learning how to read German last Wednesday. Today, I had my second German class. I've had a great time learing Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, and Dative cases, and the corresponding articles for Masculine, Feminine, Neutral, and Plural. Anyway (again), German is a weird language (but its not like English isn't weird). It seems that Germans don't like to use the space bar or move their hand over between nouns. These are called compound nouns. One such compound noun I learned this week was (are you ready for this?)..."staatsangestelltenkrankheitsversicherungsgesellschaft". Yes, that's one word! It means: State Employees health insurance company, and yes, it has 55 letters!
What is it with Germans and spaces? Do they not get along?