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to bring back the jobs we’ve outsourced, we miss a simpler reason as to why these jobs have disappeared: They are out of date, and obsolete for humans.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.   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...
Home not wanted

Home not wanted

The furnace had stopped working again and my toes felt frozen to the kitchen floor. I stood in front of the oven willing it to heat faster and hoping this was just a tiny glitch, a small in-fracture that would cost a tiny amount and I wouldn’t have to pretend like a capital investment was possible because it wasn’t. Nothing made me feel so small than realizing the house I’m living in is as cold as the air outside in November. Wrapping my mind around the square footage and three floors of nothingness I had acquired brought a chill to my spine. A chill of sadness, anger and long term frustration that I hadn’t been able to shake since moving into this place. I mustered the courage to call a heating company, swallowed the vomit I choked when told the price just to look at the broken contraption in my basement and kept standing in front of the oven doing a mental inventory of everything that was wrong with my life. Two days later a very old man was poking around in my basement and not two minutes into him stepping into the chilly air of my living room did he inform me that it was a lost cause and a new furnace had to be purchased. “I’ll send you our catalog. You’re looking at around thirty five hundred. Not too expensive for a place like this.” Sure, I mumbled to him. Thanks for your time and here’s the money I barely have for you to come poke at a block of steel and tell me I should give...
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...
Restaurant views and reflections: An essay by Jennifer Murray

Restaurant views and reflections: An essay by Jennifer Murray

One of my favorite moments while glancing out of the window during a busy night at work is when the sky is just darkening behind the old brick warehouse buildings of Lowertown and a final burst of sunshine breaks against the brick and windows creating a golden glow of buildings in front of the settling darkness. I have found that it’s usually pointless to try and point this out to my coworkers at Saint Dinette, because we’re often all too busy in the evening to appreciate anything beyond the bustle of the restaurant.  Which is a good thing: that bustle means we’re doing a good job, means people are flocking to a place that we love, eating the food that’s been made with so much care and inspiration that it boggles my mind, and appreciating the atmosphere that is fostered and inspired by the amazing people who own and run the restaurant. The view out of the window is an added bonus, even if it only provides a short moment to re-center myself, because sometimes it’s hard to be an introvert in a job that mainly attracts extroverts and requires sustained bursts of energy in a crowded room.   Sometimes I wonder how on earth I got here, nearly twelve years into restaurant work and finally in a job that I love on every single level. Not that I haven’t loved my previous jobs, but none have had so few negative qualities (Saint Dinette has none of note). Sometimes I wonder how I ever got into and stayed in this line of work.   I recall the views out...
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...