October 20th, 2011

And whose fault is THAT?

In both the local and national news now, we have businesses whining that as many as 600,000 technical jobs nationwide may be going begging for want of trained machinists, welders, and CNC machine operators. As though saying so will suddenly cause the vocational-technical school systems to produce some.

If you live in a manufacturing community like Milwaukee, you know that the reason there are few trained candidates now is because, for the last twenty years there have been few to no jobs available in those areas. Manufacturing has been in a continual cycle of plant closures, layoffs, and downsizing. Those people who were able to keep jobs in these sectors have held onto them until retirement, meaning that there has been no incentive for new people to go into these trades, since there were no jobs for them.

Running "lean", businessmen have of course made no room in their organizations for trainees, apprentices, or just having some extra capacity. Having taken no responsibility for meeting their own needs, these "entrepreneurs" now call upon the despised taxpayer-funded educational system to bail them out.

My question is, are any of these businesses doing anything to help themselves? Are they partnering with local vocational-technical schools to establish an accelerated program? Have they reached out to (gasp) unions to set up apprenticeship programs? Have they considered an On The Job Training program of their own? As to the last, I'm betting not, for sure. One thing the average pumpkinseed-grasping businessman hates like poison is paying for training.  Instead, all these would-be John Galts demand to be provided with a fully-trained workforce, like baby birds gaping to be fed, while simultaneously asserting that they don't need government, and that the taxation to pay for this training is theft. This entry was originally posted at http://sinister-sigils.dreamwidth.org/195394.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

West Allis Players, "Monday Always Leads to Murder"

On Saturday night, October 15th, we went to West Allis Central High School to see the West Allis Players' production of "Monday Always Leads to Murder."

This is one of a series of detective farces by playwright Pat Cook, featuring the misadventures of Harry Monday, who might be called a 'soft-boiled' detective. Monday, played in this outing by Scott Fudali is a good-natured character who knows he's not a very good detective, but is happy to take people's money and do what he can.

The action of "Monday Always Leads to Murder" cleverly takes place entirely in "Harry Monday's dingy office," which had been the scene of an unsolved multiple murder twenty years before. The old mystery is reopened when Courtney Delecroix (Patty Ehlers Peterson), played as a classic noir detective femme fatale, hires Monday to find an ancient artifact, missing since the murders.

The investigation brings other suspicious characters to Monday's office, including a theatre producer suddenly interested in Monday's talentless memoires (Erin Walton), the local museum antiquities curator (Paul Fischer), and a woman who shows up in order to ask Monday's help, only to be repeatedly dragged away by the police (Lillian Sullivan).  There's also Monday's cronies: Pawnbroker Sol Johar (Scott Dyer), irascible policeman Brogan (Ben Dern), and building janitor "Pop" (Scott Stenstrup), all of whom get involved in the plot.

Fudali as Monday keeps smiling and takes a low-keyed approach, commenting wryly on the action as the other characters chew the scenery. As Director Mary Beth Topf noted in the program, everyone had fun rehearsing the show, and that was evident on the stage. Everyone did a good job of putting the characters accross and making the action of the play cler and coherent (or, as coherent as a farce can be--).  Characterization was uniformly good, with some impressively consistent accent work by Walton (Russian), Dyer ("Noo Yawk"), and Dern (Irish cop). Timing was tight, and stage business clever and funny, which is much that a play of this type needs.

The script is far from deathless prose, but is light and witty, and plays with the conventions of the hard-boiled detective spoof (by now, a genre in itself) in a fairly fresh fashion. We laughed and nudged one another quite a bit, and enjoyed our evening at the theatre.

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Ding, Dong, the Dictator's Dead--

The New York Times and other sources report that Moammar Gadhafi, one of the world's longest tenured dictators, and the longest serving leader in Africa and the Arab world, has died as a result of wounds suffered during his capture today.

Given Ghadafi's sense of self-drama and oft-cited defiance of the Lybian rebellion and NATO, I'm sure that he would have preferred to go down fighting, and he came close.

He will be missed by few save his family and remaining hangers-on. I wish the people of Lybia the best of luck in rebuilding their country. Unfortunately, like so many nations, they have no tradition of democracy or good governance to build on, and I expect that factional fighting and intertribal strife are what comes next there.

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