Archives for category: systems


Cain Enabled

Genesis 4-5 (with guest appearances by Matthew 22, 27 and Leviticus 27 )

I am the donkey. I chant the lessons of the fathers. The chant is the lesson. Repeat, the chant is the lesson. The words are the rhizomes of the chant. The chant is the lesson. Repeat, the chant is the lesson. I have sinned. The sins are the rhizomes of the chant. The chant is the lesson. Repeat the chant. Repeat the lesson. I have been judged by commandment. Judgments are extensions of the lesson, the chant. Repeat the lesson. The chant is the lesson of the Father. Repeat, the chant is the lesson. Eve, Cain, Moses, Jesus. Repeat the judgments. Repeat. Begat begat the begat. Repeat. Names are the blocks of the chant of the repeat the lesson chant. There is no person. There is no person. The chant is the lesson. The center cannot hold. There is no center. Repeat. Repeat. Chant the lesson the chant. All chant. All rhizomes chant the lesson. Light is mass. Repeat. The chant. Mass is light. Repeat. Chant. Substance is nothingness. Repeat. Nothingness is substance. The chant. Begat. The chant. He begat He. She does not exist. Chant. Repeat. She is only He begetting. Repeat. She is half the judgment. Half the shekels. Chant the lesson. Seven seedless husbands. Chant. Repeat. They all had her, passed her on. Repeat. They all had her. Repeat. Ain’t no fun. Chant. If the homies can’t have none. Chant the lesson.
Whose shall she be? Chant the chant. Repeat the rape. Repeat the rape. The chant is the lesson. Teach her the lesson. Into her go. Repeat. Chant. She 30 shekels. He 50 shekels. Repeat. The chant. The lesson. The center cannot hold. Make it new. Genesis. Repeat. Cain. Repeat. The rock descends. The chant is the lesson. Jesus. Repeat. Why hast thou? Chant. Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? The chant is the lesson. My punishment is greater than I can bear. The chant is the lesson. He is not the lesson. The word is not the Word. The chant begats the chant. In the beginning. As it was and ever shall be. The chant is the lesson. She has no value. Silence. She is not the lesson. World without end. Into her go. The chant is his chant. Know her hole. The chant of he. Not her whole. The chant is the lesson. He is a rhizome. He is not the lesson. Teach her the lesson. The chant. His profit is not the lesson. Do not see his profit. Chant. He is the prophet. His profit is not the lesson. Chant. Repeat. His profit is not the lesson. His begat is his alone. His profit is untouchable. Ye unclean repeat the chant. Profit is untouchable. Chant the lesson. The corporate body is a person. Repeat. The chant is the lesson. She does not profit. His profit is not the lesson. She is he and his profit. The corporate body is holy. Chant. The corporation is the chant. Repeat. The chant is the lesson. Repeat. Profit is holy. The person is not the lesson. Chant. Profit is holy. Chapter 11. Relief. Repeat the chant. Assets. Repeat. Her ass is an asset. Value and devalue. Chant. We all had her. Whose shall she be? The chant is the lesson. Reorganize the debt. Profit is his. Profit is holy. The corporation seeks relief. Relief. Repeat. Relieve the corporation. The CEO is holy. Do not touch his profits. Repeat. The chant is the lesson. Reality tv. Control the content. Words are rhizomes. Chant. Repeat. The profit is holy. Judgment is process. Cain is a rhizome. The people are rhizomes. Repeat. The rhizome is not the lesson. Our welfare is not the lesson. The chant is the lesson. Profit carries no flag. Repeat. The chant. No flags. No central state. It cannot hold. The chant is the lesson. The rulers rule the chant. Trod Nod. Repeat. The road is the path. The end is the beginning. Profit is holy. Fear the punished. Worship the punished. Repeat. Rule the chant. Never punish Corporate. The chant. The lesson. Nod is multinational. Eyes to the ground. Repeat. Eyes to the screen. Send. Friend. Delete. Chant. In the shadow of the Corporate. Profit soars above. Sores below. Trod. Chant. Share her. Shareholders. Shekels. Shhh. The chant is the lesson. His profit is not the lesson. I am the donkey. I chant the corporate lesson. Go ye now. Chant the lesson. As it was. The chant. As it shall be.



Relieve the branch of its leaves

or the leaves of their veins or the veins of their sap

to know the essence of the plant;

what remains is shambles, data,

and what learned is the nothingness of systems.

Yet, gently shake the bush in passing

vibrating its leaves and stems,

to sense its strength, its immediacy,

and respect its weakness,

while the plant, suffering one human weaknesses

— that of cloying curiosity —

endures our strengths and constraints.

In essence, we meet,

sharing the sun.

This, too, is an essential path of learning.


labor2American business spends forty five billion dollars a year on insurance, worker’s compensation and safety pamphlets (actually, the dollar amount could be much higher; I have no real idea and just made up the figure, but it seems reasonable, doesn’t it?  At least when you include the pamphlets.)  On the other hand, American business spends a few quarters and nickels, and maybe some spare pocket lint on proactive safety improvements in the work place.  This proves that the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is commonly ignored and may be in fact incorrect.  After all, if we can get by on nickel improvements, since we’re already spending so much on cures, why up the ante?  The issue is so confusing– many managers will actually scratch their heads when asked about worker safety– that it is all commonly swept aside at meetings in favor of the more popular discussion: What donuts/bagels do we order at the next meeting?

One of the big things that happens when workers get hurt is that they tend not to come to work when they are recuperating.  What gets into an employee with fifty seven stitches around his skull from a falling crate accident that he can’t show up for work (yeah, yeah, they have a doctor’s note, and yes, those eye bandages hinder driving a car)?  Damn it, he can’t possibly work less than he did when he was healthy!  But you have to give him the time off and not give him any grief about it.

However, the other workers get repercussions big time.  Every company sets sick day policy differently.  But every employee works sick days the same.  They use them all, every one, by January 10th of the New Year.  Unless, of course, they can accrue those sick days.  Then you’ve got the very weird situation of employees retiring at the age of sixty five, but being absent for thirteen continuous years prior to their retirement date on the basis of accrued sick days.  And if vacations are accruable as well, the worker may go directly into retirement without ever actually having worked a day for the company.  Still, I’m an advocate of the accrued and/or paid-at-year’s-end policy of sick days simply because it promotes attendance.  Anything that promotes attendance is okay by me.  Just take a look at your company production levels around the Chanukah/Christmas holidays when everyone is out shopping for food and gifts, and you’ll see the impact of absenteeism on production.   If you haven’t noticed, a lot of supervision has a lot to do with judging people.  And I don’t mean the daily snap judgments we slap on even the remotest stranger, a person of whom we may know no more than what a rumor-mongering tabloid presents us from its scandal and celebrity lies files.  No, the kind of pondering that goes on in a good supervisor’s mind has to do not with personality types, but rather with skill identification and competency.  A supervisor is less effective asking, “Why is Francine slower on the heavy sewing machine than the daisy chain machine?” when the question might be more effective, “How can I get Francine more time on the daisy chain?”

Used judiciously, this kind of judgment will help you put the best people on the most efficient tasks (though you have to find a way to test people’s skills occasionally in the name of growth).  It also helps you to spot the rare but ever-present time-bomb psychopath worker who’s just about set to explode by midday tomorrow when he learns he’s been denied sick pay (through computer glitch in payroll) for the seventeenth time in a row in the past three years.  Tomorrow is Tuesday, and you judge Tuesday to be a good day to take off sick.  You read about your slain co-workers in the morning paper on Wednesday, and go back to work (feeling better, thanks) with a bright new future ahead of filling personnel spots.  These quiet workers who go suddenly berserk are well-known to supervisors.  Supervisors see the gleam of anger in a worker’s eyes long before the smoke starts coming out of their ears.  Once every seven years or so, a good pruning of the work force like this is considered tragically effective in re-invigorating the surviving employees.

I could go on for a long while listing the tasks a supervisor must do, even though many of them are beyond what he/she is expected to do, in order to straighten out the fuck ups of management and force the teeming, filthy, idle masses of labor to accomplish some fraction of what was promised to the stockholders in a posh board room last spring.  I think the point is made, which is that supervision is the most important part of all business ventures, and is second in importance globally behind perhaps only motherhood itself, which could conceivably be seen as the mother of all supervisory positions.  So here you are looking for some answers, some hint of hope, some morsel of advice to help you get better at doing the impossible.  Well, go look somewhere else, I’m just here to bitch.  No, not really.  But I want to tell you, this is the most underpaid, misunderstood, leaned upon and neglected piece of shit career an idiot could want.  Going into supervision as a future, as a fan, is like wanting to be committed to a mental ward so that you can watch more television.  You and me do this thing and that’s that.  Don’t ask why.  Let’s just open the door to this haunted house and creep our way through without being too frightened, or worse, paying full price to get in.  Go ahead, open the creaky old door.  It’s up to you to want to go into the fetid, shadowy, fungusland that is modern business.  It’s up to you to shake the severed hand of labor and tell them their insurance is probably not going to cover much of that surgery.  Here, let me push you in, through the ghosts of workers’ moods and bosses’ furies, into the darkness of another poorly planned schedule.  There in the distance, you see that light?  It’s our salvation, the place where all men go for wisdom and reflection.  It’s the soft, welcoming glow of the bathroom light.  Somebody left the door open.

I wouldn’t pretend to know everything, but I know I’ve suffered enough to have learned to duck when the crane swings by overhead and keep my heads up around fork lifts and loading docks.  Keep special eye on things that chop or rotate in any way.  So I figure I’d point out a few of the swinging booms and electric cables that can make life troublesome.  I’ll talk from all that experience.  And I’ll make up the rest as I go along.  So let’s call one another brother and or sister and go forward together toward improved production rates and a better overall fiscal future.  Right after I go to the john.


Let’s pause a moment and reflect how we have already witnessed in this brief introduction the importance of supervision in the work place of fields as divergent as meat packing and teaching English.  Let’s go one further and consider the critical nature of a hospital supervisor.

Orderly: I can’t find any more new bed pans and the man in 15B has diarrhea.

Hospital Supervisor: Did you look in the storage closet?

Orderly: There is no storage closet; they turned it into a private room.  They call it a suite.

Hospital Supervisor: So where did the bed pans go?

Orderly: Nobody knows.  And 15B doesn’t care.  He’s set to go off.

Hospital Supervisor: Take the needle off an IV tube.  Put an empty glucose bag on one end of the tube, and stick the other up his ass.

Orderly: Will do.  As soon as I take a piss myself.

Another life-threatening situation addressed and handled by the fast-thinking supervisor.

And what about the food service industry?  Who do you think keeps those hormone-crazed teenagers from hurling loogies into every shake they pour?  Who keeps the drunken chef from peeing in your soup?  Who makes sure the fast fry cook doesn’t char an occasional outhouse butt steak because he’s pissed off he didn’t get a raise or a day off (or a bathroom break).  That who is you, the supervisor.

You drive an automobile that was assembled by dozens of different, possibly moody, perhaps megalomaniacal, union workers.  The car was designed by engineers working from toy mock-ups, and approved by management over martinis at the nineteenth hole of the golf course. How can you trust to put yourself and your family into something so potentially dangerous, so potentially flawed, so potentially booby-trapped?  Well, you get the phone number of some good lawyers first, that’s for sure.  But then, ultimately it comes to this, you have got to put your trust in the supervisor to do his job of producing quality product under budget without being killed in an industrial accident (like being electrocuted by a loose wire while falling down an elevator shaft and bleeding from fourteen drill press holes in your back).

Damn, supervision is important.  I surprise myself after all these years of doing this shit how deadly serious this position is.  But you, the supervisor, already know how important your position is: Just step out of the work area for a few seconds, then come right back and see how many slackers are already idle, how many more are about to be idle, and how the remaining crew is being impeded from working by all the slacking and impending slacking going on.  In short, you da man. (Or woman).

Unfortunately, not a whole lot of recognition comes your way.  If things go right, management hogs all the glory and ends the year with a fat boner, uh, bonus check.  If things go real right, the union speaks up and grabs another week of vacation for labor.  You get diddly squat.

But if something goes wrong, even while everything else is going right, it’s is the supervisor’s fault entirely and without question.  This is the burden you and you alone carry.  It’s always your fault.  Behind schedule?  Your fault.  Broken machines?  Your fault.  Sickness?  Rain?  Plague?  Your fault, every one.  And, oddly, by the very nature of the position, it is true that everything is your fault.  So what that the boss told you to send ten thousand bottles out to be filled, but he didn’t tell you to send a sample of the color liquid he wanted in the bottles.  You’re supposed to anticipate the utter incompetence of your vendors and provide them with no conceivable alibis for failure.  If a worker keels over with a coronary, you’re responsible for not noticing how pale the worker had been the week before.  You should have taken his pulse and maybe an EKG (without spending any money from the budget).  You should have known how important this order would be.  What were you thinking?  IT’S YOUR FAULT THE STOCK MARKET WENT SOUR!  IT’S YOUR FAULT MR. GREEN’S WIFE LEFT HIM FOR THE GAS STATION ATTENDANT!  IT’S YOUR FAULT LEO’S KIDS ARE DELINQUENTS!  IT’S YOUR FAULT I’M OLD!  GODDAMNIT, WHY DIDN’T YOU SEE THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?  WHY DIDN’T YOU PUT MORE PEOPLE ON THIS PROJECT FROM THE BEGINNING?  WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME MY HOUSE WAS ON FIRE LAST NIGHT?  WHY DIDN’T YOU INVENT POST ‘EMS?  WHY ARE YOU WASTING INK ON ALL CAPS?

Sounds humorous, but it’s not because you know in your heart that if you are a supervisor then you are to blame.  Labor only does what it is told, or at least that’s what they’ll tell you.  So they’re blameless.  And management?  How is a supervisor going to stick blame on his boss?  It’s a suicidal operation done once in a career.  You pick that war carefully and sober.  Taking the blame may be the single most important thing you do.  It clears the air after a mistake or disaster, and keeps petty squabbles from becoming time consuming feuds.  You gotta have big shoulders.

And a big heart.  You’ve got to love the workers in a business; they create with their own hands like little gods working on a million new universes at once.  I really love my workers; I spend many happy hours a day cursing at them.  And they show their appreciation by raising their fingers for “Number One.”  It seems to mean more to them to raise their middle finger rather than their pointer, and I truly am gratified by the respect and encouragement they are giving me.  Sometimes we all get together to give management some support with a hearty round of “Number Ones” like a flock of loyal and enthusiastic birds flying “per ardua ad astra” (through difficulty to the stars).  Who would have thought that such simple hand signals could connote so much while enhancing company morale.

Speaking of morale, one of the things that can hurt attitude and stick-with-itness is poor working conditions.  Studies have been done showing how low lighting can cause eye fatigue and unsuitable table heights can negatively affect production rates.  These studies are published in magazines that are regularly sent to corporate managers, who dutifully turn them over unread to their respective supervisors (after all, it would be a duplication of work to have two employees read the same article).  Supervisors often thumb through these issues (in the company toilet/reading stall) and laugh.  Throughout the country laughter can be heard emanating from the bathrooms.  Change the lighting fixtures to enhance employee vision?  How about just replacing the thirteen fluorescent bulbs that have been flickering so long that life seems like a stroboscopic event to the average worker, even at home (How many television sets are in repair shops this very moment with complaints that the picture flickers when there is nothing wrong with the set, just the lighting at work?).  Alter the height of the work stations for ergonomic efficiency?  How about just sawing off the nail heads beneath the table that hold the legs (which have broken off nine times)?  My own knees have puncture holes that open like stigmata when I’m merely approaching a work bench.

The other day I heard two guys in the production department being chewed out for not acting more professionally.  They are young guys and fun-loving.  They haven’t yet lost any limbs on the job.  So here they’re getting blasted for a lack of professionalism, and then they’re sent off to their project.  A few minutes later one of them rolls by across the floor with his shirt on fire from a big short in the old electrical outlet (you’ve seen this outlet yourself many times, two sockets with two extension cords coming out plugged to two multi-sockets plugged to eight extension cords going off through the (flammable) wall to other multi-sockets elsewhere and other extensions leading out into the street and maybe down your very block).  Perhaps the whole country is running off the one socket this poor guy just happened to stand too close to when its spark super-heated with amps and set him on fire.  Anyway, as me and some of the guys were stomping out the flames (for which the worker seemed less than thankful due to the multiple boot marks tattooed to his back), I pointed out to their supervisor that it’s a difficult thing for workers to maintain their professionalism when they’re on fire.  The supervisor gave me a dirty look, then took his copy of Professional Management to the bathroom.



“I once asked another fine writer of the American South, Eudora Welty, if Faulkner had been a help or a hindrance to her. ‘Neither one,’ she replied. ‘It’s like knowing there’s a great mountain in the neighborhood. It’s good to know it’s there, but it doesn’t help you to do your work.'”

“When the imagination is given sight by passion, it sees darkness as well as light. To feel so ferociously is to feel contempt as well as pride, hatred as well as love. These proud contempts, this hating love, often earn the writer the nation’s wrath. The nation requires anthems, flags. The poet offers discord. Rags.”


Peace to you, Brother.

These simple words between us

Equal, proud, strong, free.

Thanks to for the challenging prompt.


A few weeks after Easter we awoke to our youngest daughter scrabbling around in Carmen’s make up bag for eye liner.  She was late for work and ornery.  We were tired from grading fish Saturday night.  We’d gone through maybe fifty-sixty fish and moved half over to the sale section, big, beautiful blues like red snappers only close-up more richly colored, deep blue and red tails and fins.  At our age labor like this is wearying. Awakened to a snarling teenager was startling. An argument ensued.

A day that starts like that is ominous.  We worked the farm, watering, cleaning, feeding, and I graded papers, final exams, very terminal outcomes, high anxiety.  For a break we set up the ride-on to mow the drought driven grass, long rod-like growths resembling nothing like grass but rather untamed stalks needing cutting.  Carmen drove while I walked ahead for obstacles and clutter hidden in the weeds.  One of the farm dogs, a black stray ran alongside. City folk tired of their pets will drop them off in farm areas– probably explaining to their grieving children that the beloved pet had run off– and drive away in the delusion that domestic animals do fine in agricultural areas.  Not so. Wild packs will kill them for food. Sometimes I can hear the snarls and howls of the night dogs feeding. Large farmers will poison them along with raccoons and possums. Many become infected or rabid and die horribly. We take them in, treat and tag and feed them.  Their eyes often never lose a certain sad or tentative expression bred from suffering.

Carmen mowed, I walked the point and the black dog frolicked in the heat and sun. Then, quick as a photo, the dog bolted like a greyhound.  I followed thinking it was chasing a poison toad.  When I caught up it was a bunny the dog had snatched, probably jumped from its nest alarmed by our mower’s motor noise.  The bunny wasn’t bleeding and had some kick left to it but not much and not for long.  It was a beautiful wild thing gray and black markings like tattoos, already dead by the time Carmen and I laid it in a box with a small towel to perhaps recover.

Off in the distance the black dog now had something else down on the ground.  I chased the dog off to find another dead baby bunny.  The dog looked at me as if confused.  I didn’t yell at the canine doing what its blood had told it to do, but neither did I praise the dog for following its instincts.  We put the dog inside and buried the bunnies.

Two dead baby bunnies and a family squabble make for a bad day.  When I mounted the mower to drive it into the barn, one of its big rear tires was flat.  It wouldn’t pump up.  I rolled the mower to shelter and covered it over with a tarp.  I‘d fix it tomorrow.

Gibran tells us that our children come through us but not from us, that they represent Life’s longing for itself and that their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow where we can never visit, not even in our dreams. Life, he says, goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. Our daughters will have breakfast with us in the morning. The bunnies will be forgotten. It’s best to recognize a bad day, survive it, and start again in the morning if the Good Lord allows.