Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union: Word Choice

Two roomies and I just got back from a friends place, where we watched and discussed GWB's State of the Union address.

In the course of an hour, even with twenty minutes consisting of applause, George said a lot, and much was (and could still be) said afterwards. Certain empjhases, themes, and phrases stuck in our heads, and that got me thinking about how carefully these addresses are crafted, as did MB's remark about how it'd have been a good idea to pull up the text from last year's address and compare.

Well, we haven't done as much, but the New York Times has prepared a chart with selected key words that have popped up throughout his six addresses, which gives a glimpse into the shifting of priorities and constant themes of the administration. What immediately sticks out at me is the dropping of 'social security' and 'retirement' from George's discourse after last year's non-endorsement, but there's more to plumb from the speech. Thoughts?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Globalization of Nothing

I'm finding that time spent on the treadmill is an opportune time for reading, and spent the week reading George Ritzer's The Globalization of Nothing.

Ritzer teaches at the University of Maryland, and is best known for his work on McDonaldization, which he defines as "the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society, as well as the rest of the world." He builds on Max Weber's theory of formal rationality, which lies at the roots of the modern bureaucracy, and is marked by efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. The side effect, or the 'iron cage' of rationality, is that an environment marked by these qualities can quickly dehumanize and strip persons of their identity. Ritzer sees Weber's theory enfleshed in McDonalds, and spent the bulk of The McDonaldization of Society examining the effect of McDonaldization.

A chapter in the earlier work focused upon the links between McDonaldization and globalization, a phenomenon which has left no part of the world unaffected. The Globalization of Nothing focuses more closely on the matter, and Ritzer builds on Roland Robertson's concept of glocalization, or the integration between local and global elements to create unique outcomes in different locations. Ritzer suggests a counterpart, grobalization, by which he means the subsumption of the local into a global power, be it a corporation, nation, or organization, with a byproduct being the loss of unique local flavor in a homogenous world. Ritzer sees McDonaldization, capitalism, and Americanization as central elements of grobalization, particularly the grobalization of 'nothing,' or 'social forms which are centrally conceived, controlled and comparatively devoid of distinctive substantive content (3),' which is contrasted with 'something,' forms which are indigenously conceived and controlled, and comparatively rich in substantive content. Ritzer focuses his attention upon the glocalization of something and the grobalization of nothing, and sees the latter as a dominant trend in our world, which is becoming increasingly homogeneous.

While i am neither a trained sociologist nor an economist, I find Ritzer's theses attractive in their perceptivity, if frightening in their implication. I'd recommend his works, both for analysis and for readability, and have him on my short list of 'thinkers and authors to follow.'

Connected trains of thought for me relate to rationalization, and my mixed feelings on the subject, the use of marketing techniques within churches and the question of just what makes us distinctive, and the role of the powers in light of global capitalism, drawing from the work of John Howard Yoder and Walter Wink. Two related books on the topic which i plan to read soon are Exporting the American Gospel and The McDonaldization of the Church, the latter written by John Drane, who is lecturing at Fuller this quarter, along with his wife Olive.

More later; this post is merely an introduction to vital terms for understanding the conversation.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fringe Benefits of Frailty...

Over the past year, I've discovered that i can't do all-nighters anymore, a bit of a shock, considering that i regularly pulled them through college and into seminary, where the Madison trio could be expected to pull stereophonic all-nighters during exam week. No longer.

On the plus side, working late now means 12:30, and i am going to call it a night, with further comments on John 6 to come in the morning. In the interim, a few words from John Howard Yoder will suffice, commemorating my first full read of The Politics of Jesus. (brief impression: he wrote this thirty-plus years ago...whoa. yeah, i may soon become a yoder groupie)

Regarding Paul's statement about social pressure:

What he says is not, as some conservative religious groups would say, that the gospel deals only with personal ethics and not with social structures. Nor does he say that the only way to change structures is to change the heart of an individual, preferably the one in power, and then see that he or she exercises control of society with more humility and better standards. What needs to be seen is rather that the primary social structure through which the gospel works to change other structures is that of the Christian community. Here, within this community, people are rendered humble and changed in the way they behave not simply by a proclamation directed to their sense of guilt but also by genuine social relationships with other people who ask them about their obedience; who (in the words of Jesus) 'bind and loose.' (153-4)

Friday, January 20, 2006

New Protest4 Website

The new Protest4 website is up and running, and it looks tremendous!

IMO, anyone interested in collaborating to tackle matters of justice on a grassroots level, specifically human trafficking and the sex trade, would do quite well to stop by and connect.

In addition, the Business Travellers Against Human Trafficking website is a regularly updated source of news articles that i recommend for increasing one's awareness of the world in which we live.

US Obtains Internet Users' Search Records

This item from today's times caught my eye. Will read the story later this evening, when i have time and space to do so, but the topic merits publicity.

My connection: i recently installed google's desktop search tool on my computer, having found it helpful where the 'Find' feature in Windows is lacking (searching inside documents and bringing up cached web documents alongside local files). It's pretty powerful, and quite handy. However, given the recent revelations about the wiretapping activities of the US government and like privacy concerns, i'm measured with my praise of search and indexing tools, as they have tremendous potential for good and evil, depending on the intentions of the typist and searcher.

Haven't given the topic much sustained thought, but this bit, and a recent book entitled 'The Search' by John Battelle, one of the original editors of Wired, have captured my interest and may spur further consideration.

(on a sidenote, all hyperlinks in this post were found through google...)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

*#@&ing Plumbing ...

To follow up on the last post, my email is back up and running, courtesy of gmail, who now provides service to onemikework.

Actually, that's been true for about a week now. I've had access and been online, just not writing. No reason, really. Began to draft a post on a baseball trade, and have had several thoughts percolating, but nothing's hit paper. Grad school has seen my mind outpace both my mouth and my body, and i'm looking forward to being out come june, hoping that things will equalize a little bit.

As for the post title, plumbing malfunctions continue to frustrate. The house is about 100 years old, and i'm beginning to suspect that the pipes are just as aged, especially when one is evaporating due to corrosion. Just happens to be directly underneath the kitchen sink, nothing major at all.

A repairman is due tomorrow; let's hope he doesn't look at the dilemma and laugh (as did another plumber upon sighting our water filter)!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


so it looks like sbc has deactivated my email account; until further activity is taken to rectify this problem and restore my access, please contact me at michaelwork at hotmail dot com.