Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back

Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back

For years we’ve heard that the U.S. is losing jobs to countries that get things done quicker and cheaper. President-elect Trump had this issue at the forefront of his campaign. As he said in an early Republican debate, “I will bring jobs back from China. I will bring jobs back from Japan. I will bring jobs back from Mexico. I’m going to bring jobs back and I’ll start bringing them back very fast.” But in trying to bring back the jobs we’ve outsourced, we miss a simpler reason as to why these jobs have disappeared: They are out of date, and obsolete for humans. Trump has promised manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs that simply do not exist anymore. Technology is coming for, or has already taken, as many jobs as have been sent abroad. The blue-collar, benefits-laden work that allowed for a down payment on a nice, two-story home in an American suburb and the means to start a family have now been handed over to R2D2. Well those damn robots are taking our jobs! Recall the 1964 Twilight Zone episode The Brain Center at Whipple’s in which robots replace all workers at a factory, including, in the end, the boss himself. This is what we are dealing with now. We have millions of Americans scrambling because Happy Days-era jobs don’t exist anymore, and too many people are unwilling or unable to retrain, stuck with a skill set better utilized by robots. As Rice University professor of computational engineering Moche Vardi told Factor earlier this year, “US factories are not disappearing; they simply aren’t employing human workers. Job losses due to automation and robotics are often overlooked...
In bed with a hush

In bed with a hush

He walked in with his face all cut up. His eye split open and bleeding down his cheeks. A fat man yelling curse words at him. Both cooks at a bar downtown that serves greasy and good food you’ll regret eating, but not until the morning. I was on the patio drinking beer and listening to Mac tell stories about Nassau, about Fox Hill, the Bahamas. I was eating a cheeseburger I knew I’d regret come morning. He walked in with his face all cut up. His eyes going in opposite directions. Too drunk to notice. From the way he was walking, stumbling, rather, the pockmarks on his pale skin catching blood like a thousand tiny pools. Down the block a man covers his face with a black handkerchief, a pistol in his hand. The girl next to him has her face covered too so you can only see her eyes, green, and nothing else. They pass the all-night diner, Mickey’s, with their eyes on the street ahead. I don’t want any trouble. A police car will be passing soon, but what will change? Lily is home asleep and I should be there with her. Safe and sound in the warm bed we bought together. What am I going to do on these crazy streets? What am I doing with this beer I don’t need, looking up at neons overhead that blur and focus and blur again? Mac next to me smokes cigarettes and they stink. Everyone outside is smoking cigarettes. A homeless man shuffles by, his long overcoat dragging on the ground and he asks for change through the...
Real websites, fake news

Real websites, fake news

Fake news has existed from the earliest days of journalism, long before Bat Boy became Hillary Clinton’s alien baby. In 1835, Richard A. Locke published a series of six fake articles about the discovery of life on the moon, now known as the Great Moon Hoax, in The Sun newspaper. Sales of The Sun went through the roof. Writing false news stories and calling them real is generally protected by the first (and 14th) amendment (though libel can be prosecuted, and harassment). A groundbreaking 1931 case here in Minnesota defined journalistic freedom for the decades to come. The Near v. Minnesota case, dealing with a small newspaper that attempted to report corruption in the Twin Cities, went all the way to the Supreme Court. It set a precedent for recognizing freedom of the press by disallowing prior restraint on publication. (If you want to know the full story, read Minnesota Rag by Fred W. Friendly) This isn’t satire we’re talking about. We all know The Onion, or the New Yorker’s Borowitz Report, as reliable sources of satire. The number of humor-free sites attempting to convince an audience of authenticity without any real truth or foundation in them has been growing. As has their audience. At first these sites were easily identifiable. They were cheaply made and clearly unprofessional. But it was only a matter of time before duplicity got a makeover and began looking a lot more legitimate. The Big Hoax Facebook is perhaps the biggest offender. 66% of Facebook users get news from the site, and falsehoods have spread there like the plague. As outlined in the Select All article Can Facebook Solve Its Macedonian Fake-News Problem? the ability to generate income through ads...
A short story about violence

A short story about violence

The dancer I go to work like normal. It was papa’s store and it’s a store that keeps a roof over our head. Work hard, he says, so I can go to college. I go to work like normal because whenever I don’t have class he wants me to work. Papa doesn’t appreciate free time, he says, There’s no time for free time. These boys come in a lot and they’re kind of cute. I stand at the top of the stairs in a beautiful dress and curtsy like they do in the movies. I took dance lessons when I was young because mama wanted me to. That was the one thing she wanted for me. So I stand at the top of the stairs and gracefully descend. The moonlight shining through the window. My date in his tuxedo standing at the base with his arm outstretched waiting for me to take it like, You look beautiful, Marnie. Would you care to dance? Yes, I say all cool. I would like to dance. Then he says all suave, Well, would you care to dance with me? and I finally take his arm and we dance all night underneath a chandelier that sparkles and shines bright like diamonds. Missus Corcoran was a strict dance teacher and she would always tell me to focus. She was always yelling at me more than anyone else. Ligne! Marnie are you paying attention? I mostly read at work. Not very many people come in at once. It’s not that I love Organic Chemistry, I just hear papa’s voice telling me, Why would you just...
Ice cream on a hot day

Ice cream on a hot day

It’s one of those hot days in July. Uncle Lou gives me some money and tells me to go down to Tate’s Corner Store and get him some beer. I tell him, “I’m not old enough to buy beer,” but Uncle Lou waves his hand at me and says, “Tate won’t mind a bit if you tell him it’s for me.” It’s too hot to go outside. I don’t want to leave the air-conditioning. But the look Uncle Lou is giving me tells me I shouldn’t say anything else, I should just get my butt out of the house and get him some beer. Halfway down the street I see Auntie Winterbacken walking with a baby. I stop and ask whose baby it is. Auntie Winterbacken is too old to have kids on her own, as far as I know. She just smiles at me and tells me it’s none of my business. I keep on down the street to Tate’s Corner Store. It’s hot though so after the next block I stop running. I’m sweating and I’m out of breath, so I stop and lean up against the wall of one of the rooming houses mom tells me I should stay away from. I only stop for a second. The last thing I need is for Boo or Lonny to see me standing outside the rooming house and go back and tell mom and pop about it. So I say “Yah!” like people do when they want a horse to run faster and hit myself on the behind and keep on running down the street. Tate’s store is...