Patt Morrison

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Brother, Can You Spare A Job?

Sometimes you wish you could just reach through the microphone and make things better for some callers. I felt that way earlier in the week, when a number of battered women called with such terrible stories of suffering during the segment about the domestic violence documentary, ''Sin by Silence.''

The same feeling came over me today, hearing from so many obviously able, smart listeners who'd been fired. It made today's sobering Labor Department stats about unemployment very real. One caller who was fired after 15 years on the job said he was so overqualified for the service job he finally did get that he lost that one. William, the journeyman carpenter, jobless for the first time in 20 years, found himself standing in a home supply store parking lot among day laborers -- but no one would hire him because he asked for $10 or $12 an hour and not minimum wage, or less [the average hourly wage in the country, the Labor Department says, is just above $18 an hour, and in California it's no doubt higher].

Yes, yes, unemployment is one of the last things to recover in a recession, but that's no consolation to so many of you who want to work and can't find anything. There were a few hopeful calls from people who had found new and occasionally better jobs, or had gone back to college, but the whole tone was dispiriting.

Also loads of calls came in about how many Americans are having a great old time rating everything online -- books, movies, restaurants, plumbers, doctors. It's a subjective art, one that our guests said requires some careful reading and evaluation. It also treads on the dangerous territory of ''gaming'' the Internet with flame-out slagging anonymous comments about some business by its competitors -- or, conversely, a suspiciously high number of flattering remarks that read like they could have come from your mother. And maybe they did.

Oh, and Manny Ramirez comes back to the Dodgers lineup after a 50-game suspension. Will it be ''Wooooo!'' or ''Booooo!''?

Tomorrow, for the Fourth of July, P.J. O'Rourke waxes nostalgic about cars with big fins, big gas tanks and big back seats, and two authors duke it out over their books. One title's ''1959: The Year Everything Changed,'' and the other is entitled, ''1969: The Year Everything Changed.'' Ladies and gentlemen, fill out your fight cards!

Don't forget that the cacophony of fireworks can terrify your pets into doing things they'd never do otherwise -- like getting out and running away. Trust me, it can happen. Please be sure to keep them safe on the Fourth.

-- Patt Morrison

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