So there I was...minding my own business, sitting on the floor of Barnes and Noble and perusing Photoshop books. As if I don't already own enough. Then I noticed a lot of foot traffic around me as people started to pile in for Senator Byron Dorgan's book signing.
I took a couple of pictures out of curiosity, but I'm not a news service. I did, however, take the opportunity to take a look through a copy of the Senator's book, "Take This Job and Ship It." I'm a speed reader, so I plowed through it pretty quickly. It's a light but enjoyable read, with lots of anecdotes in it that are a good read but typically have a sad ending.
I can't say that I disagree wholly with the Senator or much of his book, actually. I vote Republican on moral and economic grounds and shudder at the thought of the Dorgans of this nation getting control of the government. I do, however, agree that he does make some good points in this book. Those points entail where the system isn't working, and he's got lots of anecdotal evidence to back it up. But that's where our agreement ends. You see, Senator Dorgan has some pretty bad ideas about how to solve the outsourcing of jobs.
One of these brilliant ideas is an increase in labor unions. Labor unions are driving jobs out of this country...look at the airline and auto industries! Car manufacturers pay more per car for employee benefits than they do for the steel to make it. Meanwhile, union employees at General Motors get paid to NOT work. Literally. I was a union shop steward...I saw stoners get paid as much as (or more) for screwing around than guys who wanted to work hard and stay at their job for the long term. Unions don't work any better than welfare. They cost a lot of money, nobody gets rich because they have a union job, and unions kill any incentive to work hard. Thus the unions are part of the problem, not the solution.
I remember hearing a story of a guy who got fired at Melroe for stealing tools, saw blades and drill bits, or something like that. As the story goes, by the time the union was done with Melroe, the guy was back on the job, with back pay to boot! Tell me again how labor unions make America great.
One problem he does NOT go anywhere near in the book, to my recollection, is illegal immigration. Back in Washington he did, however, try to attach an amendment to the Immigration Reform bill to limit worker eligibility. But his colleagues didn't like that, and it failed when put to a vote. Why he can't represent his state and take a hard line against illegals entirely is no secret; he's towing the party line.
I agree with the Senator that it's awful when the United States sells out to China, with its awful human rights record and all. But let's not forget, the President he defended from 1992 to 2000 sold military secrets to China and tried to sweep it under the rug. Then Senator Dorgan attempts to hint at President Bush and the Republicans being the problem. He doesn't do it outright, though... apparently someone reminded him how this state votes when it comes to Presidents and state legislators.
It's one thing for Senator Dorgan to write a book outlining these problems, and another for him to vote the way his book makes him sound. By the way, 92% of his campaign money comes from OUTSIDE of North Dakota. From those evil corporations AND labor unions, too. Instead of voting with North Dakotans, he votes with ultra-liberals such as Ted Kennedy 82.8% of the time; John Kerry 88.5% of the time; and Chuck Schumer 95.8% of the time.
He does try to throw a bunch of this at the feet of the Republicans...but let's be honest: all of Washington's finest are up to their elbows in it. Al Gore owns oil stock while he's out there telling us little people to stop using petroleum. Ned Lamont tells us little people that Wal Mart is unfair, yet personally purchased enough of Wal Mart's stock to pay off most of my house. Hillary Clinton has the same anti-Wal Mart rant when she's talking to her faithful, yet she served on the Wal Mart board of directors. Washington's broke all around, and it isn't the Democrats who are going to fix it.
I really thought I was going to pick up the Senator's book, find it 100% tripe, and perhaps hang around enough to ask him an inflammatory question. In the end I found myself agreeing with his diagnosis on a lot of the problems, few if any of the solutions, and no desire to make an ass of myself. As far as the jobs going overseas, I don't have any more answers than Senator Dorgan does...not while there are people in Washington willing to sell out this country to the highest bidder, corporate or otherwise.
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These uniquely shaped rocks are from an area north of Mandan on Highway 1806. They're part of the excavation and construction of the earthen dam of the Harmon Lake project. While they look pretty bizarre, they're simply the result of normal geologic processes. They're called "cannonballs" and are not all that uncommon in our area.
Just like a Tootsie Pop, they have a center that differs in composition from the outer layers. I don't think their internal composition is what makes them stand out so much; rather, it's their round or egg-shaped appearance. In the case of these particular rocks, their size is remarkable too.
I'd heard about the Harmon Lake project a while back, but never seen it for myself until recently. It's not often that a guy finds himself traveling north on 1806...heck, it even turns to gravel just a stone's throw north of here! If you do find yourself in the area, however, it's not easy to miss the big piles of dirt to the left of the roadway. Originally the concrete tower of the overflow control unit stood out like a water tower; now it's not even visible from the highway side of the dam any more.
This is the backside of the dam. Construction is still underway, but was halted on this particular day because of rain. Once it's completed, this will be a recreational area for all to enjoy. The project actually began in 1969 (just like yours truly) when it was first designed, but is only now coming to fruition. Upon the groundbreaking back in 2003, it was expected to be completed in 2005. I guess they missed that mark.
This 2100-foot long, 67-foot tall dam and the 144 acre lake it will create are a joint effort between ND Game and Fish, the cities of Bismarck and Mandan, and the State Water Commission. The USDA's NRCS (Resource Conservation Service) kicked in a grant for almost eighty percent of the project's anticipated $11 million cost.
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This is a 5-point rating system. If you like the post, click on the dot to the far right. If you think I'm out of my ever-lovin' mind, click on the dot on the far right. Just kidding. The dot on the left is worth 1 point, the one on the right worth 5, and I leave it to you to discern the values of the remaining three.
Each time a user clicks a dot it's added to the tally, the number on the right. The average rating is on the left. In the graphic above, 4 users have responded with an average rating of 3.8.
Have fun. The old Chicago adage "vote early, vote often!" doesn't apply here.
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I can't decide whether I think this building was a barn or a home. I'm a city kid and can't be trusted to make those determinations when it comes to farm buildings, especially dilapidated ones such as this.
As I point out in every one of these posts I affectionately title "Fallen Farm," I really have a love of the old rural buildings (and remnants thereof) that dot the North Dakota landscape. It's always interesting to pause and wonder who lived and worked in them. Wonder why they were abandoned. Imagine what they looked like when first constructed and/or inhabited.
If you want an indicator of how life in rural America has changed since the times of the Homestead Act, just look at the number of fallen farms. I'm not passing judgement on whether it's better or worse; it's simply a nostalgic look back at the area's not-so-distant past... even for a city kid.
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No, not a John Grisham novel...a brief blog post featuring a couple of bird photos from this afternoon! Taking a break from some frustrating yard work, I found myself poking around near some water where these guys were hanging out. Thankfully some of them were also circling overhead, providing some practice with moving subjects for this amateur photographer.
That's about the best caption I could come up with for this picture of one of the gang gliding in to join the rest. It was a much more graceful landing than the one I caught out near Crystal Springs a while back!
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