2:00PM Water Cooler 5/27/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is the start of a long weekend, and I’m going to relax by digging up quackgrass in the garden. So unfortunately, I will not be able to comment on the Clinton email hairball, which certainly is breaking at a convenient time!

Here are some questions instead:

1) Do you think the robots are going to take everybody’s job, or is that narrative being driven a combination of thuggish behavior by employers who want to screw cheap labor, and whacky glibertarian squillionaires with bright ideas? Or both!

2) What forms of visual art are you looking at, why, what do you think of them, and how?

3) What’s on the grill for Memorial Day? And what’s in the cooler?

Open thread!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Maggie):


Malibu Creek once more….

Readers, I don’t select plant images for “artistic merit” (which is no knock on Maggie’s lovely photo). I select them if they seem important to the reader, or if they convey a moral, or remind me of a story, randomly… Or if they display formal properties that make them beautiful, at least in the eyes of some; Isolato, in correspondence, calls this “dancing the eye through the frame.” So if you take your pictures for that reason, perhaps, when and if you submit a picture, you could draw attention to those formal properties, and in that way we will educate the eyes of all readers.

* * *
Readers, Water Cooler will not exist without your regular support. Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. If you enjoy what you’re reading, please click the hat!


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. YankeeFrank

    Judging by how much hand holding those supermarket selfcheckout kiosks require I think robots replacing humans for more complex interactions is a pipe dream at this point. And forget actual AI — if it ever happens it will be 50 years from now.

    1. Harry

      Self checkout is a hidden price rise. We do the supermarkets check out clerks job but they don’t pay us and pocket our time and the additional margin. Same as self service everything.

      1. sleepy

        Yeah, I never use them. They cost somebody a job, and I’m not on the payroll as a cashier.

        1. Andy

          Yeah, I thought that at first too. But when the Safeway only has one other aisle open, and not the express lane, and you have the weekly shoppers stocking up….What are you going to do?
          I really don’t like it when the lone employee manning the flight deck is AWOL, and everybody is just standing there waiting for “assistance”.

          As for whats on the grill–Pork ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs. In the cooler is Hamms, Heineken, and Carlsberg.

          1. Solar Hero

            Guys in the Midwest, please, the opportunity to accidentally not scan something(s) — it can happen to anyone! I haven’t seen these in Cally for years!

      2. Furzy

        the dreadful SkyNet will never happen….it’s just a friggin machine, dear people, will only do what it is programmed to do…yes will take some labor jobs, tho, that these days is bad enuf, losing gainful employment for blue collar workers…we have much worse problems to deal with as humans on our amazing blue planet…

      3. JerryF

        Not only that you have to put your grocery’s at Walmart in your own bags which are not easy to open and not much fit in them. The self serve machine that my wife and I was using told us that we have to return to the bagging area after half of the groceries were rung up, at which time I told my with to stop and leave everything where it was and we walked out without putting are Walmart card in and left everything on the counter for them to put back. Walmart, you can shove those self checkout machines up your A$$..

    2. JohnnyGL

      Yes! Exactly right!

      The strongest ally the robots have is their “air of inevitability”. Sound familiar?

    3. crittermom

      I refuse to use a self-checkout at a store, as I see it as taking someone’s job while I do their work.

      1. Waldenpond

        It’s hard to avoid. I prefer interacting with people. We clean curbs instead of street cleaners. We clean corner drains of leaves before the rainy season. We bag our groceries. We use in-store info kiosks, vending machines and atms. We’re told to paint our pge pipes. etc.

      2. Peter Pan

        I almost always use the self checkout line primarily to get my recyclable bags packed correctly.

        Otherwise it isn’t more efficient as there has to be someone monitoring the activity & running around tending to alcohol purchases, coupons & fubars which slows down the entire process. I also enjoy cranking up the volume on the checkout speaker to drive everyone nuts.

      1. Yeah, yeah, yeah

        I was at Lowe’s once when there were no human cashiers except one overburdened soul at a single register. I had fought the machines three times already that week: three consecutive visits with problems at the self-checkout. On the third one I said, “suppose I just walk out the door with these goods. Could I get the attention of a human at that point?”

        So at the fourth attempt, I just left the cart-full of goods there for someone to re-stock, and carefully explained why to the attendant. She seemed to understand completely.

        If I can’t get help in the aisles, and I can’t get a human to check me out, I’ll go online, thankyouverymuch. There I can at least get a product review before buying some made-in-China POS.

        And as we all learn this lesson, brick-and-mortar retail is rightly going to debtor-in-possession heaven. Sports Authority, that overpriced landfill of a store, with three happy cashiers who pleasantly ask “did you talk to anybody in the store?” when you check out, went down for good this week. I’m looking forward to the wake, where I will get some socks at only 500% of the cost-of-goods.

        I have not belonged to Costco since that monstrosity rolled out in California thirty years ago. But this year I joined. And damn if it’s not better than every other retail experience I’ve ever had. My wife got better organic tomatoes at Walmart than at Whole Foods. What is the world coming to?

        1. Seas of Promethium

          I’ve noticed that the self-checkout system libraries use here is so flaky and unintuitive that the library staff seem to spend far more time helping “customers” (ugh) navigate the system then they would have spent checking out books under the old system.

          The system itself is Gilliamesque–it uses a barcode reader to scan cards and a separate RFID pad to scan the books–and while the former is invariably a handheld scanner it is required to be left on its stand at all times while “customers” swipe the card across the counter beneath it.

          The system requires all the books to be placed on the scanner pad simultaneously, but the RFID scanner can’t handle more than seven at a time, so people taking out more than seven books have to log in (which involves typing on a touchscreen, swiping the card under the other scanner, and then typing on the touchscreen some more) multiple times, the system each time spewing out a long paper receipt. Whatever the designer of the system was aiming for, efficiency clearly wasn’t it.

          The staff and “customers” seem to be awed by the complexity rather than frustrated by it, the attitude seems to be that more complicated = more advanced = better. Something seems badly out of joint there–it reminds me of how the rebel leader in Max Headroom bewailed the modern relationship to technology as being akin to cavemen worshiping fire.

          1. Jeff W

            Just as a counterpoint: the self-checkout library system my library uses is a breeze (and I almost never use self-checkout systems in supermarkets—way too clunky). Pass your library card’s bar code under the scanner, pass each book’s bar code under the scanner—the scanner almost always has no problem reading the bar code—and voilà, you’re good to go! It takes less than a minute, maybe even less than 30 seconds, for a few books.

            The system you are using sounds like a usability nightmare, really.

      2. YankeeFrank

        Yeah, I’d say we will have nuclear fusion tech before AI. Way before. We have absolutely no idea how cognition and intelligence really function even after studying it for decades.

        1. RMO

          We already have nuclear fusion, just not in a form suitable for non-destructive purposes. Well, unless maybe used for an Orion type rocket…

          I vote for all of the above on the robot question. Yes the idea is being used to threaten the populace and yes the silicon valley types are driving the narrative (possibly not even in a cynical way as they often seem to believe that every problem has an inevitable unstoppable digital solution). Given constant progress in technology, not something that’s assured by the way as we could well be headed for a hell on Earth that would make the worst parts of the Mad Max universe seem a paradise in comparison robots probably will be able to perform most utilitarian human functions.

          I’m Canadian so my long weekend is just past (Victoria Day) rotten weather the whole time otherwise I would have gone soaring. At least I got out to a small new music performance by the VSO one evening.

    4. Mark Hodgson

      The Supermarket is a highly inefficient system, that replaced an even more inefficient system with old style grocery stores. Now some low paid worker stacks a shelf, we the shoppers load the goods into a cart, then unload them at the check out after waiting in line, then load them back in to the cart after scanning by another low paid employee. A far better system would be to have the store pick, scan, bag and load groceries then we just show up pay and go. Then of course there would be far fewer impulse purchases and the store would have to do the work rather than me spending an hour wandering around lost and looking for things.

        1. cwaltz

          Not everywhere. Usually they do this in markets where there is already a service similar to it.

      1. different clue

        How many times would it take for your automatic store-done order to contain rotten fruit, moldy bread, sour milk and dented cans before you decided to give up on store-done and go back to pre-seeing what you buy?

        1. cnchal

          Exactly right. Unless the store/warehouse had a robot arm discerning enough to throw the rotten food in the trash instead of your shopping bag. Since that would eat into the CEO’s profit, the trash would end up in the shopping bag anyway, and then the onus is on the customer whether to eat it or trash it.

  2. curlydan

    1. Robots: To mask the difficulties of life, we pretend we are all doing cool things like recycling, eating organic, helping Earth, and getting robots to do more. Robots are an oversold part of this dream world.

    3. I don’t grill, but I did get a 12-pack of Sierra Nevada’s latest Beer Camp release with 6 different varieties. I’m not a big Sierra Nevada fan, but they do collaborate with a lot of little breweries, usually to good effect. I’ve also been drinking a couple of “dank” beers. Founders’ Redankulous is an exceptionally good (and super-dank) imperial red IPA, and my favorite beer of 2015. Lagunitas’ Waldo’s Ale is another dank beer that is pretty darn good, and at 11% ABV, packs a punch.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Prolly derives from stoner slang … “dank bud.”

        Doesn’t mean it literally tastes like old sweaty socks.

      2. nowhere

        I usually see dank in the context of potent smelling marijuana.

        Also, it’s a meme.

      3. Ralph Reed (@RalphWalterReed)

        Most of the negative connotations of dank have been manufactured during the postwar Advertising Age, is my uninvestigated hypothesis. Maybe l should look at an old OED in the library or the poetic history of “dank” vs. “moist” before positing it, but Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was formative in my adolescence.

      4. hunkerdown

        Hops and hemp are both members of the family Cannabaceae. I’m sure there’s something to that. Not that I’m a fan of bitter beers. Hence, JK’s Orchard Gate apple scrumpy to keep the weekend salubrious.

    1. Max

      I don’t drink a ton of Sierra Nevada anymore, but their Pale Ale is very good. I once heard Firestone Walker’s David Walker say that Sierra Nevada is “this generation’s Bud Light”, but I think he meant it in a good way. My understanding is that the brewery has done a lot to promote smaller independent craft breweries.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Sierra Nevada does amazing beer in almost any style you could name. Their only real weakness is their lack of snob appeal. The local grocery has had specials on SN Torpedo for 7.99 a sixer which is a great buy on a very fine brew. That said, I’ll probably be enjoying Elysian Superfuzz, not grilling as it’s looking like a rainy weekend here and as for the robots, I’ll repeat what i said this morning:

        I agree that robotics will never be economical for replacing humans in the service/retail sector, it’s just an empty threat with nothing behind it to use against giving fair wages. Where it might make more sense is in management. AI can make decisions based on rational criteria and you don’t need a lot of mechanical robot arms that break down and need regular service, electrohydraulics and closed loop control magic to implement the outputs. Middle management seems like the sweet spot for automation to me, there are high rise office buildings full of relatively highly compensated humans in every modern city that would probably be far easier to replace with automation than retail/service employees are. The problem is then, what do you do with the credentialed children of the middle and upper classes if you don’t have high rises to warehouse them in and jobs to rationalize giving them money?

    2. Peter Pan

      USDA Choice rib-eye steak on the grill along with “hobo beer” and “purple drank” in the cooler to wash down the clonazepam & gabapentin.

      I hope I wake up on Tuesday morning.

    3. es7500

      Try Sierra Nevada Torpedo………a pretty good brew and my friends agree but watch your waist…….it has quite a few calories. I think a six pack will set you back 1000 calories………or an 8 mile run.

  3. tomk

    1) I hope so, as long as they help provide for our material needs. When robots are building houses, I’ll happily do something else.

    2) A small lovely, skillfully done pastel of a vase of flowers, on what looks like a brown grocery bag, well framed, probably 100 years old. my best goodwill find so far this year. And also two framed 19th century ship lithographs, my wife found leaning against the dumpster at the town transfer station. I don’t think to much about them, but I love having them on my wall.

    3) Nothing, to much work to do, but I’ll probably eat egg salad sandwiches and drink fizzy water.

  4. ChiGal

    hairball or tar baby? wonder what the chances of something actually sticking are…

    1. hreik

      Seems just incredible to me that they won’t stick, though I’m cynical enough to believe they won’t. And if not, hope she does not become Potus. I don’t want Herr Drumpf either, tbh

  5. inode_buddha

    Re the robots, I think they are in fact going to eliminate large swaths of human labor, and the only class that will be unaffected will be their owners. Being an owner of robots is going to be the new money. Just like getting in on CNC machines in the 1980’s or owning factories in the 1800’s. Or buying into the railroads post civil-war.

    1. Synoia

      Re the robots, I think they are in fact going to eliminate large swaths of human labor, and the only class that will be unaffected will be their owners

      Ah, so no one will have any money to buy the robot built products? I’m sure the supply siders will be able to solve that problem, some how.

      Robotic consumers?

          1. Montanamaven

            I agree. Anti TINA. There is an alternative and it’s more leisure time for us humans as the Wobblies wanted one hundred years ago. Much was invented in people’s leisure time like music and shish ka bobs and the Polka. This is why the elites really hated and feared the IWW. People always plot to overthrow their masters in their free time. And If there was a GBI, we could live a good life rather than a rich life.

            1. Ulysses

              “People always plot to overthrow their masters in their free time.”

              If only that were true! Unfortunately, most people with “free time” (aka unemployed) are desperately seeking out ways to survive, in a cold and inhospitable world.

              1. Montanamaven

                but the unemployed were not what the Wobblies were talking about. they were ” workers of the world unite'” people. they were talking about workers’ leisure time I.e. more time off versus AFL goals of higher pay. your pay could be controlled by the boss. your leisure time could not be.

          2. RWood

            Yea, ever’body gets a solar feed and a plug. And it’s on your bill.
            Natural security in the botie, too. So long as it’s being paged. Also on your bill.
            ‘Cept when the big storms come through and then you want to understand your 7 pg contract that’s in the clouds when some fuse banks go (OK, so this must have started out in the ’50s).

        1. inode_buddha

          Pretty much this. I was extremely skeptical of the idea when I first heard it, but now I think that some form of it may be necessary if the trend continues. I’m very skeptical that it ever will happen tho, because my experience (30 yrs) with corporate Amerika, is that they truly don’t give a damn if you live or die. The *only* thing they care about is making their numbers for this reporting period.

          1. Waldenpond

            They’ll have to. Individuals have a primal drive to survive. People are not simply going to lay on a sidewalk and starve to death while other people wait for a robot to scrape them up. Factories will be raided and burned to the ground, robots will be destroyed.

            Society will work together to provide shelter, food and leisure or it will be taken by force.

            1. RWood

              Matrix actuality:

              It is not clear who thought first of the Matrix theme. Screenplay writer Sophia Stewart said that she was the author and that her work was stolen from her. She has been suing Warner Brothers, Joel Silver, Andy and Larry Wachowski in a Los Angeles Court in what was the biggest suit for damages in the history of the film industry. However she lost her Court battle.

      1. hunkerdown

        An idle factory of robotic staff doesn’t stop its owner from monopolizing the “intellectual property”. There are, sadly, no “use it or lose it” provisions wrt monopolies on productive IP, but there ought to be.

      2. jgordon

        I take credit for the idea of robot consumers. I even mentioned it in NC comments, years before anyone else thought it would happen! I also predicted that Serious People would start talking about pumping water from the great lakes to California, which also subsequently. Somebody should pay me to do this stuff!

      1. Waldenpond

        Many tasks nurses do can be replaced. Nurses are less hands on than ever in this country. They spend more time sitting at a computer monitoring patients from a distance. Unless individuals are very immobile, an individual can put a gauge to their ear to determine temperature or put their arm in a cuff to take a temperature. The system can also do like other countries do and have family and friends provide in hospital meals, laundry service etc.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe they will be merciful enough to program robots to adore human pets.

          Then, we can also try to out-compete each other to become their pets.

          “Like me, like me. Master robot, pick me. I am cute.”

          Now, we know how cats feel.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You can employ 10,000 serfs, you still need police protection.

      You replace them with 5,000 robots, you have an army.
      Robot owners will be warring on other robot owners…until the arrival of A.I. robots. Then, these smart robots will feast on humans.

      “In the news today, owner of the FastFood store #13592 sent 300 robots to engage about 200 robots owned by FastFood store #39101, to settle their territorial dispute.”

      1. JCC

        This reminds me of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” where families owned nukes. I suppose it could happen. Thank god, not in our lifetimes.

        As for this weekend, maybe a few Kirins and/or Indian Wells Valley’s Whiskey Barrel Brew (a nice bourbon afterlife) along with some fat juicy bleu cheese & bacon burgers.

    3. craazyboy

      I’ve narrowed it down to three possibilities:

      1) Whacky glibertarian squillionaires are robots and they are trying to give all the jobs to their relatives – many of whom live in China and Mexico, tho many with underpowered processors and poor motor skills work in the American Fast Food Economy. A few of the younger ones babysit large screen TVs.

      2) It’s a euphemism for outsourcing.

      3) The definition of “robot” has been expanded to include ratchet socket wrenches, washing machines and anything with more computing power than an abacus.

    4. JustAnObserver

      Or slaves in the 1700s ? More especially owning ships fitted out for the Triangle Trade ?

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      As soon as you think of robots as slave labor, everything falls into place. What better foundation for an aristocracy of inherited wealth than slave labor?

      Now, technically I don’t think we know how to do robots well #messy. But since when did the prospect of a clusterfuck whose consquences will be born by the little people every stop our elites from doing anything?

      1. aab

        Except I wonder how satisfying that will be emotionally for the aristocrats.

        Someone (I can’t recall who) had an interesting piece somewhere in the last year or so about why sex robots will never really take off as a way of reducing domestic violence. Her point was that abusive men really want to own and control women who have rejected them. She offered numerous compelling examples, none of which I can recall in detail right now.

        But the aristocrat analog is even easier and clearer. Imagine our current glorious elite had what is presumably their way, and 99%+ of the world population died out overnight, leaving only them and their “network” of “peers” and family, with a fully functional array of robots to deliver all service and other work for them. Would they be happy? I don’t think so. I think the race among them for hierarchical advantage would continue apace, just as it has since the Industrial Revolution. We could, after all, RIGHT NOW be delivering a life of primarily ease and leisure for the majority of developed nations without resorting to such brutalizing serfdom and slavery both domestically and internationally. All that created value is being parked offshore in digitized computer systems, in warehoused artwork, in posh apartments. There is so much excess created value that assets like art and apartments are being massively inflated in empty value so the exploiters have more concrete ways to count and hoard it.

        Robots solve nothing within the contextual framework of capitalism. The humans thriving at the top have devalued human relationships in favor of hierarchical power, and would continue to do so until, as in some demented Dr. Who episode, there was only one human left.

  6. Ranger Rick

    Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout and some 80/20 chuck mixed with cheddar, worcestershire sauce and par-cooked bacon. Why yes my blood pressure is just fine, thanks for asking.

  7. grayslady

    Black angus top sirloin was on sale last week, so I grabbed some for the freezer in anticipation of this weekend. But since we’re supposed to have rain Saturday evening, part of the meat will be made into beef stroganoff. I use Gordon Hammersley’s coffee-based marinade recipe for grilled top sirloin (or flank steak), which is excellent, in spite of how it may sound. A kind friend gave me new stainless steel grates and bars for my 13-year old Weber gas grill, so I can hardly wait to try out my good-as-new grill. We only drink the occasional beer around here. Otherwise, it’s Smirnoff Vodka, kept in the freezer.

    Regarding robots, as a fan of Frank Herbert’s book, Dune, I firmly believe that there will be a backlash against computerized everything. I wouldn’t have made a satisfactory mentat, but I know a couple of people who would do just fine. I foresee that human interaction will become a marketing plus, and that computers will be confined to precise mechanical functions, where they can be quite useful.

  8. curlydan

    Every time I see those Malibu Creek photos, I get flashbacks to the opening sequence of “Little House on the Prairie” and Laura running down the hill.

  9. Theo Braun

    Some Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald to remind me of my youth in Canada on the Great Lakes and then some Old Mecklenburg – Great Charlotte brewery in the German tradition. It brings together where I now live in the South and my German Heritage. All of this to celebrate Memorial Weekend. I will try to avoid American Beer for it is really indicative of what we have come to settle for in this country.

  10. Anon

    Why worry about the robots when shadow work is the real threat. There was a Water Cooler link some time ago about it, as seen here:

    Shadow Work

    As for the art, haven’t seen anything yet of interest, but perhaps on Monday. Finally, there might be standard fare at the cookout (assuming there is one).

  11. C

    1) Do you think the robots are going to take everybody’s job, or is that narrative being driven a combination of thuggish behavior by employers who want to screw cheap labor, and whacky glibertarian squillionaires with bright ideas? Or both!

    Not everyone. We have created an economic system that rewards, quite lavishly in fact, putting people out of work by any means necessary. This rewards not just the roboticist but the job cutter or the person who pares a job down until it can be mechanized if not eliminated or offshored.

    The problem is that there is something in the fact that needs change and so do jobs. But there is also something in that we are driving the shift away from sustainable jobs to unsustainable ones (taxi drivers to uber drivers) for the gain of a few.

  12. red

    1) I think Ha Joon Chang is right when he argues that robots are the PR fall guy du jour for austerity politics.

    That said, the one field where they *should* become more prevalent is American medicine. I’ve noticed that most U.S. physicians diagnose whatever’s good for pharma instead of what’s actually explains the symptoms and/or can be cheaply treated (e.g., depression instead of hypothyroidism).

    1. Carla

      And you think robots wouldn’t be programmed to “diagnose” and “treat” that way, too?

    2. inode_buddha

      I think US business executives should be automated. The vast majority of the input filtering and decision making required could be done with a Perl script. Think of how much money could be saved!

  13. ChiGal

    2. Pansies, planted a few weeks ago on my porch. The way they catch the sunlight ravishes me (and once it gets hot they will be over so gotta soak it in while I can). Each flower is a perfectly designed, luminous work of art but my pics always fall short, tho I keep trying.

  14. Robert Hahl

    Live music on youtube really is a new form of visual art, because they capture great individual performances that almost no one ever got to see before.

    Edsilia Rombley – Metropole Orkest – Get Ready (met intro)

    The Neville Brothers – Congo Square

    Gary Clark Jr and John Mayer – Born Under A Bad Sign

    Ruthie Foster – “Travelin’ Shoes”

    SYLVAIN LUC Nomad’s Land

    Aloe Blacc’s I Need A Dollar – Jack Savoretti, We Were Evergreen & Sophie Delila

      1. Seas of Promethium

        The song is better than the video.

        Hey! That’s Leiji Matsumoto you’re dissing there!

        He’s a guy who knows from robots.

    1. mk

      My bird and I like to dance, we’ve been dancing to these songs last few weeks:

      This is a show tune
      But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet
      Nina Simone, Mississippi Goddam

      Lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ninasimone/mississippigoddam.html

      stephen colbert late show theme song – director’s cut

      I’m working this memorial day weekend, so my visual pleasures come from the hills where I walk dogs and the beautiful, blooming gardens where they live.

  15. RabidGandhi

    Thanks for bringing up the robots issue! I find myself in agreement with about 95% of the overall comments on this website. But the one issue that always gets my goat is robots (and it seems to come up here every bleeding day). There can be no reconciling the oft expressed idea here that “we live in a service society where manufacturing jobs are becoming unnecessary” with the blatant amount of infrastructure work that needs to be done.

    I believe everyone who wants a job should have one (jobs not jawbs). I also believe that there will hopefully come a time in the future when all of our needs are met and further physical labour would be unnecessary to advance society (but still optional for those who want it). But we are sooooo far away from that point. And in the meantime, all this talk of robots is exactly what I think Lambert said: Glibertarian fantasies deployed to screw labour.

    It’s fine if you want to think of a future time when manual labour is unnecessary, but fix your damn bridges first! Build a high speed rail network and switch to renewable energies, then we’ll talk.

    Oh and…

    #2: reading about Franz Kline, so my eyes are burning with big slashes of black.
    #3: it’s cold down here! making Locro.

  16. borregopas@yahoo.com

    One of the reasons why driverless cars failed their recent testing was that they needed clear lane markings and other signals for their mechanical actions. Outside of relatively limited actions such as taking over spots on an assembly line (tighten these four screws or put this wheel on that ‘axle’ that the mechanized convey system always places in the same spot) I believe that it will turn out their usefulness is still more limited than our greedy overlords wish them to be.

    Problems facing this:

    Design of the robot, design of the space they work so they have the items and cues they need to do their task, programming of that task, maintenance of that space and the robot itself, and limiting their interaction with humans who are unpredictable and will not conform to the scenarios the robot is programmed for.

    I’m sure others here can come up with other reasons this is not ready for us yet. And not just that this is not the windfall they expect.

    1. Indrid Cold

      Roads are so bad lately that it’s unlikely they’ll get past these issues soon

  17. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re: … “What forms of visual art are you looking at lately?”…

    Besides my wife’s beautiful flower garden, Studio C’s short sketches on YouTube. (I am torn between “French Revolution Manhunt”, which they have updated to adjust for the current administration’s policies, and “Kids Should Love Money”.

    But the 7-year old son of a neighbor who is presently incarcerated tugs at my heartstrings for symbolic imagery. The other day he placed one of those little American flags – the kind realtors used to put out for Memorial Day and the 4th – on the overgrown front lawn of their presently vacant house.

    Happy Memorial Day weekend, Lambert, and thank you.

  18. Svejk

    What do they do with us when robots have taken all our jobs?
    1. guaranteed income check from the government doled out by a private contractor, inadequate, of course, leading to a typical third world scenario, people selling t-shirts on the street, walking dogs.

    2. put us into some kind of institutions resembling schools, with make-work, overseers, reward and punishment

    3. a Marxian paradise where we can self-educate, form social and political networks, do the work we love.

    4. climate change-induced environmental disaster kills most of us off anyway, problem solved

    Number 3 is what they have been fighting hardest against since the enclosure movement and the first textile mills, so those guaranteed income checks better be darned stingy and they will need major legal obstacles against cooperatives, associative bodies and true self-employment.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      #3 is what, with a level of effort, the JG would be. It’s a fantasy to think that you can have the world you want without work. (Although it’s easy to have someone else’s world, without work.)

  19. TarheelDem

    Given the drive to crapification of goods and services through constant layoffs of the human beings who actually put together the commodities, removing those human beings and substituting robots will likely increase the pace of crapification.

    At what point do the unemployed human beings go off and start trading goods and services and ignore the entire economy?

  20. Robert Hahl

    Live music on youtube really is a new visual art form because it has great performances that almost no one could ever see before.

    Edsilia Rombley – Metropole Orkest – Get Ready (met intro)

    The Neville Brothers – Congo Square

    Gary Clark Jr and John Mayer – Born Under A Bad Sign

    Ruthie Foster – “Travelin’ Shoes”

    Jack Savoretti, We Were Evergreen & Sophie Delila – I Need a Dollar

    SYLVAIN LUC Nomad’s Land

    Snarky Puppy – Quarter Master (groundUP)

    Jamiroquai – Love Foolosophy (live session 2011)

  21. sleepy

    Two racks of ribs in the smoker with hickory chunks. Homemade potato salad. Strawberry shortcake. Iced tea. Won’t be too long before I have my own potatoes, green onions, parsley, and dill out of my garden for really homegrown potato salad.

    Strawberries should be ready for picking in 2 or 3 weeks too.

  22. Larry

    1) I’ll welcome the robots as long as it gets us closer to Gailbrath’s conclusion that at some time in the not so distant future work would no longer be necessary because productivity would be so high. I can take an existence like what is seen on the Star Trek series.

    2) For visual art I have Harper’s magazine and Rabih Alameddine’s Twitter feed. @rabihalameddine is well worth a follow. Poetry, funny GIFs, and art!

    3) Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union IPL (hoppy lager), Founders All Day IPA, and Trillium Heavy Mettle.

    1. nick

      lol at your beer list.

      I’m staring down:

      Jack’s Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner (a few Framinghammers too), Trillium Congress Street, and a few Treehouse Hazes

      One of the perks of Worcester living.

      1. Larry

        Have not been able to get my hands on Treehouse though I’ve heard great things about it. They were at the last beer fest I went to in Boston and ran out of beer while having wait lines of nearly an hour. Yeesh.

        I love Jack’s Abby and they’ve scaled that operation nicely so it’s readily available everywhere.

  23. unorthodoxmarxist

    Robots = the rising organic composition of capital = the inevitability of the growth of the army of the unemployed in capitalism = a massive contradiction within capitalism.

    Yes, robots are likely to slowly take over from human labor. Marx’s discussion of the rising OCC in capitalism still holds as true or truer in 2016 than it did in the 1860s. It does, of course, present an opportunity for a more enlightened society to abolish drudge work and provide everyone with a chance to live without work. Under capitalism we’re likely to just see most of us tossed into the pile of the unemployed and given a small stipend to keep demand in the economy alive.

  24. jhallc

    On Saturday the annual “Pig Roast” at Fireman Ed’s house. Lots of good beer to try. I’m bringing a MA Trillium Brewing “Pot&Kettle” Oatmeal Porter W/ Cold brewed Coffee that my nephew picked up at the brewery on his way up to Boston. I’m a fan of Porter’s so looking forward to it. Goose Island “Bourbon County” Stout for dessert.

    1. kj1313

      One of my favorite stouts is Mothers Milk from Keegan Brewing Co in upstate NY. Big fan of the Breakfast Stout from Founders also.

  25. neo-realist

    1. I think Robots are a threat to get workers to accept lower wages and minimal bargaining power.

    2. Simon Hanselmann-Megg, Mogg & Owl Comics–has released a couple of books, Megahex and Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam and has a tumblr site as well: Sex, Substances, and Depression. As one who doesn’t do comics, I find his material rather refreshing and hilarious–harkens back to early 70’s Ralph Bakshi animated film work–Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and C**nskin.

    3. Not a BBQ’er but may end up getting Chinese take-out or Pizza Delivery.

  26. Nik

    Robot workers are just the latest expression of the industrial habit of replacing human labour with materials and energy, one that is soon to be (and arguably already is) past its sell-by date. There is no automated, labour-free utopia coming, and even the barest hint that there could be will be a relic of an era when we had more energy available to us than sense.

    Our long weekend up here has come and gone, but I’ve got homemade saison and ESB on tap in the kegerator, and if one of those kicks we’ll be on to a (fingers crossed) delicious new IPA. We’ll see what strikes me as far as tasty Friday dinner goes when I get to the grocery store.

      1. polecat

        I wash my truck but maybe once a year……the sign to do so is when the moss and lichens are sooo robust and established…you can see them from space!

        I jokingly call it the ‘chia’ truck…..

    1. Waldenpond

      You get those of us that have mosses and ground covers to send you some. We brought home rocks but it grows better on concrete so if you can repurpose some broken cinder block? Also, old wood will grow different mosses so how about some scraps of wood? Lay out your surfaces in the pattern you want, ideally on a north exposure, and add your varieties. You’ll need to add a bit of acid. Now that our Redwood tree rotted and was removed, I use leftover holiday tree, it gets snipped and added to blueberries, raspberries and moss areas.

      That right hand picture, looks like it has the same weed I get in my mosses.

    2. Pat

      Just freakin’ gorgeous. And I understand the sensation even if I know the answer to that question in reference to myself. I mean I’m the person struggling to keep pansies going at one of my work places.

  27. ilporcupine

    TV reporting Trump just backed out of Bernie debate. “no sense debating the second place candidate”

    1. Pavel

      I just read that over at ZH … no real surprise, Trump changes his mind and also is too chickensh!t to debate Bernie. Team Clinton will be relieved. What a shame.

      At this stage Sanders should just say “Fuck it” and declare he’s running as a third party. He might well poll at 15% and thus get into the debates.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Trump can’t debate anyone who isn’t crook. He’s an obvious blowhard. Jeb and Hillary are a different story. There is so much low hanging fruit.

        I don’t think he could have debated Mittens if Mittens had just run instead of lecturing. You don’t attack Trump. You let him be. Sanders has made Trump a coward by agreeing to Trump’s terms, not attacking Trump.

        The Clinton people can’t capitalize because they are canceling the agreed upon debate. Trump and Clinton are the same set of cowards.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            My general view is the country will never elect a whiner such as Rubio. Trump has officially joined Hillary in the ranks of wimps. If Sanders scares them, Putin must make Trump and Hillary switch to depends.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps it’s cowardice, or perhaps he’s too calculating. We do well not to under estimate anyone.

          Does Sanders lack courage not wanting to run as a third party, as Pavel mentioned above? I don’t believe so in this case either.

          On the other hand, i think this year is a good time to unite all the smaller parties. the Green party, the Libertarian party, Independents, etc., for a greater cause.

      2. es7500

        In a three way Bernie will win. No question about it. I don’t agree with a lot of his positions because I am in the 1% but I would pay a lot more taxes if I could just live through a presidency with some shred of integrity. All my 1% friends say the same thing. Hillary is bought between the lawyers and the lawyer/bankers…..hell she is one…….and Trump……an unknown…..but perhaps he will sober up. Bern

        1. different clue

          How close are you and your friends to the very lowest bottom edge of the 1%? I can’t imagine someone from the OPOOP or the OPOOPOOP thinking something like this.

    2. Waldenpond

      TYT interviewing Sanders right now. CY:Pointing out that if FBI was investigating him, Clinton would cover it. Sanders deflects, says he won’t attack Clinton on a personal basis and starts his stump speech. The investigations will play out.

      CY: Superdelegates? Sanders: He won’t have to make the case if indictment. They aren’t dumb and will want to make sure Trump doesn’t win. Certainly, if, if, if would that be taken into account by the superdelegates.. of course.

      CY: Biden. Sanders: really speculating on indictment. Won’t be. Biden would be a terrible message. The voters, work etc irrelevant. Happen to like Biden alot.

      Sanders brings up unfavorables of both. Voting against… depressing. He has to make an exception for Trump, pathological liar (ha!ha! as if Clinton isn’t)

      ok, I’m out. Can’t take any more.

    3. grayslady

      Hmmmm. It seems the second place candidate is the only Dem generating any enthusiasm. On the other hand, if Trump really didn’t want to be Pres., as one woman who worked for his campaign noted at an earlier moment, this would be the perfect way to help Bernie win over the superdelegates who are holding out. Trump can read newspapers as well as the next person, and he knows that, in the general, it’s advantage Bernie over everyone else. Seems Trump has decided to play for keeps. He knows he can’t pulverize Bernie the way he can pulverize Hillary.

  28. Paul Tioxon

    I can’t help but laugh at all of the people making a complete fool of themselves, seriously promoting robots, the internet of everything, everything for the 1% that can afford internet enabled dog food warmers, AI taking over, but you mention the actual rise of solar power, which is not a sci-fi threat but actively being built out and running advanced industrial economies such as Germany’s, up to 87% on peak days, all of a sudden, it’s crazy delusion time. Really, robots in McDonalds, like those cheapskates would spend a dime on equipment that they know is just a gateway for spare parts rip off and service call delays. Let’s discuss the rise of the machines, robots from the future come to the present to stop Bernie from getting into the White House to raise the min-wage to $15/hr: The SuperDelagator.

    1. ilporcupine

      And they would no longer have “low skill” humans to blame for the shit product and service.

    2. fresno dan


      After talks of raising the minimum wage have stirred across the country, The Ostrich’s Matt Mitchell reports that Wesley’s Boobie Trap CEO David Sellers warned that a drastic increase to $15 an hour could force him to fire his staff and replace them with exotic-dancing robots.

      “The Trap,” as it is known by loyal patrons, is a popular bar in Sayre, a small community on the outskirts of Jefferson County.

      “It’s cheaper to build a dancing robot than it is to hire another Jasmine or Tiffany at $15 an hour,” explained Sellers. “Our dancers average about 3 hours of work a night. That’s about….hold on….carry the one…well, it’s a lot of money. I promise you that.”

      Sellers admits he’s never actually built a robot before, but he has enrolled in a welding class at nearby Bevill State Community College. Until he completes his first fully functional robot, dancers will likely be replaced by those large inflatables that violently swing their arms.

      “The car lots don’t use those inflatables at night,” said Sellers. “So there ain’t no reason why they can’t make a little extra money.”

      Sellers’ statements about the robotic replacements spread quickly to The Trap’s human dancers, who were not amused by the CEO’s threats.

      “Sure, we both take dollar bills, but can a dancing vending machine do THIS? Or how about THIS?” shouted a visibly angry Crystal as she did things we cannot describe without testing the limits of your employer’s web filter.

      To prove his regular customers wouldn’t notice the difference between a typical human and robot dancer, Sellers pushed one of his prototypes onto the stage during a busy Saturday night. Comprised mostly of lawnmower scraps, the Tiffany 5000 twirled in front of customers for roughly 20 seconds before bursting into flames. Only one customer, known simply as “Lester,” sustained an injury after he reportedly approached the blazing Tiffany 5000 to request a private dance.

      While his prototype was a complete loss, Sellers deemed the trial run a huge success. Surveys obtained from customers that night ranked Tiffany 5000 as the 2nd most entertaining dancer, surpassed only by Lester, who performed the stop, drop, and roll flawlessly.


      Sentence was incomplete: “Only one customer, known simply as “Lester,” sustained an injury after he reportedly approached the blazing Tiffany 5000 to request a private dance, ‘and two dollars to stick in her tailpipe’….”

    1. ChiGal

      Thanks for sharing! What sly, delicious confections, like Wes Anderson films or Alice Hoffman’s fairy tales.

  29. ilporcupine

    – May 27, 2016 –
    ​Donald J. Trump Statement on Debating Bernie Sanders
    “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders – and it would be an easy payday – I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

    1. bdy

      Will be nice to eventually see her called “Crooked Hillary” to her face, in front of God and everyone. I’m guessing she blushes like Reagan – right through the pancake makeup.

      Still not worth the entertainmemt value, to have to sit through another one of these s*** shows we call elections and live with the awful consequences of once again shutting out a surprisingly wise consensus on war, sustainability and economic justice. We take what we can take.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “Cowardly Hillary”

        Trump if he’s smart used “crooked” to cover that he and Hillary are too cowardly to debate. Don’t use use his phrasing.

        I don’t usually like negative framing, but Trump just slit his wrist over a tank of barracudas. Trump is a coward. I guess Rubio was right about than just policy when he brought up Trumps small hands.

      2. cnchal

        “Crooked Hillary” is seen as a compliment by the recipient, therefore no blushing underneath the pancake makeup.

  30. jsn

    Our robot overlords: That it took Google’s data centers 50,000 times the wattage to beat the human Go Master says what needs to be said about robots: energy through put precludes widespread roll out without greatly accelerating climate change. It will require massive electrical consumption all the way from robot cradle to robot grave: if we get to the point where they are ubiquitous it is unlikely the world will be inhabitable anymore.

    Visual art: Looking at all things hand made: anything worth making is worth making by hand. To make this proposition humane implies wildly different monetary valuations, but would make “externalities” visible to everyone most of the time and make real conservation a visible virtue. I’m all for technology and science, but at the service of artful human making rather than as masters of commoditized human labor. St. Paul’s Church at NY City Hall Park was entirely hand made and sourced within about a 10 mile radius. It is a beautiful little Wren knock off. A block up, Woolworth was probably 70% machine made and sourced within about a 100 mile radius 150 years latter, also beautiful, but gigantic and mostly machine made. Across the park, 90 years latter Frank Gehry’s 80 Spruce was sourced from around the world and to the extent human labor is evident in the final form it is the skilled labor of the Gehry Technology modeler who gave it its form, or the clumsy assembly on site of awkward manufactured pieces best viewed from over 100 feet. The replacement of artisans by machines is evident in each step and while each has its own appeal, by the time you get to Woolworth, already, the building is useless without electricity.

    Smoking a chicken and drinking a light Bordeaux that goes with it perfectly!

    1. cnchal

      A quick question. 50,000 times the wattage of what?

      . . . anything worth making is worth making by hand. . .

      That depends on your definition of worth and hand. The reality is that everything that is worth something to someone has a combination of thought, hand labor and machine labor behind it.

      Even the definition of hand made gets a little fuzzy. Were any hand tools used? Those tools were made in a factory with modern production processes that use hand and machine labor, so for something to be truly hand made, one would have to throw out the productivity increases from the division of labor and start from scratch at the ore mine, in a weird way echoing Mao’s iron smelter in every backyard dictum.

  31. ilporcupine

    Trump statement follows, above was my snide summary.

    – May 27, 2016 –
    ​Donald J. Trump Statement on Debating Bernie Sanders

    Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders – and it would be an easy payday – I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.

  32. ilporcupine

    – May 27, 2016 –
    ​Donald J. Trump Statement on Debating Bernie Sanders

    Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders – and it would be an easy payday – I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.
    He ain’t all wrong, in the first part…

  33. Eureka Springs

    Driving through Kansas City a month or so back the only reason I took an exit was to pop into Trader Joes for an assortment of cheap wines. They rarely disappoint and this time was exceptionally good.

    I buy a half hog raised by my 83 year old neighbor every year. Took a few packages of ham steaks, cored out three whole pineapples and filled them with the pork. Gas grilled at 500 for one hour then 300 for the next hour. The meat has made the best soft tacos this side of a Puerto Vallarta taco stand.

    Visually… still photography, working with uv light, body paints, surrealism… been a great ‘get out of the box’ challenge.

    With the exception of pathways I can’t mow my yard… it’s like Tuolumne meadows on Dank in full bloom out there. Every visiting friend brings a vase or two and goes home with a giant bouquet and a smile on their face. It’s amazing what comes naturally if we let it.

    Stop growing grass!

  34. Titus Pullo

    1. Robots will not be taking our jobs. The McD’s CEO claiming that he can replace his employees with $35K robots is very much a pipe dream. Are they going to unload the trucks and stock/organize the walk-in coolers and freezers? Are they going to clean the grills or fry-o-lators? Or if it is some kind of robot with an internal food processing system, is there going to be another robot to load ingredients and QC the final result?

    It’s completely a pipe dream, and will be until robots can be anywhere as adaptable as human beings. The real robot future is in autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems. It’s much easier to kill humans than provide them a service.

    Furthermore, AI is very much a pipe dream as well, regardless of the claims of various AIs passing the Turing test.

    2. Tumblr is a place to take in massive amounts of visual art (also artful porn, which will pop up even if you are careful). I’m deep into Symbolist painting again personally. Tumblr has everything from individual artists and designers to whatever you can think of really. Lots of good photography. Though it too has been crapified.

    3. There’s no rest for the wicked on this holiday weekend.

  35. Chet Gottfried

    1. Of course robots will replace common-folk jobs. It’s a big plus for manufacturers, and the self-checkout in stores is a simple example of day-to-day life.
    2. I received the final proof today of the cover of my new SF novel, Into the Horsebutt Nebula. The cover is bold and striking. Odd too, but then so is the novel.
    3. Nothing out of the ordinary, but the Flying Fish IPA is a treat.

  36. myshkin

    Assuming the human endeavor survives another few decades. Would a pervasive deployment of robotics require us to review our theory and practice of wealth distribution?
    Work (effort exerted to accomplish ends towards which we would otherwise not be engaged except as an act of survival. Effort we engage in to amuse and entertain ourselves would perhaps be categorized as play) and its construct of societal validation will require a thorough re-examination.

    1) Wealth creation and incomes could no longer directly be linked as products of our labor.
    2) Extreme wealth accumulation, once skimmed, now raked from the producers by the rentiers, from where will it be derived and how validated?
    3) If a minimum livable basic income is provided to every member of society will the wealthy continue to amass ever greater inequality?

    I absolutely relate to the worker solidarity sentiment of choosing the live cashier to the IT checkout lane, however if guaranteed minimum income is deployed would anyone want to do an 8 hour shift of standing and scanning in a badly lit, unpleasant work environment?
    I recall the first ATMs and resistance to them in deference to bank tellers. And how about swiping credit cards and pumping our own gas? Only New Jersey, that I know of, still insists a gas attendant pump the gas.

    For visuals I’m watching ever changing nature and pencil sketching my new environment having left the belly of the beast, Washington DC, for Nova Scotia in November 2015.

    Being Canada there’s plenty of beer, when I pass through Shelburne NS I stop at Boxing Rock a great micro but currently sipping on apple brandy from a small Lunenburg distiller, Ironworks.

    Grilled sweet pepper, chopped with greens, dressed with lime juice and olive oil, over beans and grains, but not Memorial weekend. Last weekend lese majeste; grilled monarch for Victoria Day.

  37. Steve in Flyover

    I dare a major food chain to go “All Robotic” Put your money where your mouth is, a-holes…….

    For starters, working a part-time, fast food job at minimum wage is a net money loser. Too many of these self labeled “small businessmen” owe their existences to the “Bank of Mom and Dad”, who have this obsolete, 20th Century belief that their kids are learning a “work ethic” by being employed flipping burgers. So they subsidize their transportation costs to get there.

    For starters, you are going to need people that know what they are doing to clean and repair the robot burger flippers. People with a much higher skill level than they typical high schooler/illegal. Ask the people in manufacturing, transportation and the airlines. Finding people who know how to turn wrenches is getting to be close to impossible.

    Seems that these business professionals have kept pay levels for wrench turners so low, for so long, that nobody wants to go into the wrench turning business anymore (whether it’s aviation, robotics, manufacturing, transportation, etc.) The guys that have the smarts to fix this high tech stuff don’t turn wrenches anymore. They are in IT, or a whole bunch of other jobs that pay a whole lot better, and/or are less of a daily PITA.

    I see one problem with this whole “robot food service/preparation” fantasy……….it’s spelled “E Coli”. Especially when they pull the teeth out of food preparation regs with their “Regulation is Bad” campaigns.

    For me personally, it’s all good. A s##t load of chickens are coming home to roost in the aviation business. The sooner the meltdown, the sooner is it that I start making bank.

    The only question, is “Which creates the bigger meltdown?” A recession, where the suits try to cut more corners than they already have, or a “recovery” where “growth” will rapidly be curtailed because of a lack of trained, experienced, certified people?

    As far as “Self Serve Check Out”, I avoid it (and the places pushing them) like the plague. For starters, I don’t save any money. And second, they waste more of my time.

    1. inode_buddha

      The self-checkout things annoy me — they always make me wonder why I’m paying retail instead of wholesale.

    2. cnchal

      You can cheat a dishonest man.

      Ed Rensi: “I guarantee you, if the $15 minimum wage goes across the country, you’re going to see a job loss like you can’t believe. I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday, and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry, it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient, making $15 an hour bagging french fries.”

      Having been to a few trade shows myself, not this one, typically the sales slickies will blow sweet nothings up your ass all day long.

      Ed Rensi’s biggest pain in the ass is that he resents paying a nickel to any human being that works directly for him, and the purveyors of $35,000 robotic french fry bagging arms key on that. That’s what sales are all about. Finding your potential customers biggest pain and having a solution for it.

      So Ed walks up to the robotic french fry bagger booth and Slickie says ‘Hi Ed, how’s it going?

      Ed ‘Ok except I have these people working for me and they want a raise, and for that I want to fire them. The ungrateful wretches don’t know how lucky they are to have me as their jawb creator.’

      Slickie ‘Jeez Ed, that’s one hell of a problem. Those employees must be bleeding you dry. I got something that can help you with that’.

      Ed ‘Really. That’s great. What is it?

      Slickie ‘Come over here and check out our brand new robotic french fry bagging arm’. It’ll serve a bag of french fries in 1.7 seconds. How long does it take for one of your workers, if you can call them that, to bag fries?

      Ed ‘The slow inefficient ones about 10 seconds and the fast ones 5 seconds’.

      Slickie ‘That’s a savings of 3 to 7 seconds per serving. Look at how many more servings per hour you can do with our new robotic french fry bagging arm. Now you’re making money Ed, instead of paying slow worthless employees’.

      Ed ‘How much?’

      Slickie ‘$35,000 and it will get rid of two employees, and pay’s for itself in six months, after that it’s pure gravy for you Ed’

      Ed ‘Awesome. Can I get a discount if I order two? That way I can get rid of four people.’

      Slickie ‘Sure. Just sign this 5 year maintenance agreement’.

  38. TalkingCargo

    Robots will probably take people’s jobs for a while. An effective way to increase profits is to cut costs and reducing labor costs is a favored way of doing that. But modern industrial society can’t function without fossil fuels, especially oil. And the oil won’t last forever. When drilling for oil becomes unprofitable, there will be no more robots, along with a lot of other hi-tech stuff. IOW, the Star Trek future ain’t happening.

    I can’t think of any visual arts that I’m crazy about off hand. But sunsets and sunrises in the open ocean can be delightful. Also, the view of the Milky Way when you’re a thousand miles from land is spectacular.

  39. Alfred

    Concerning AI … The heart being the computer and code. Take a short read about what is happening at a lightening pace with code, programming, and as this article observes “training”. http://www.wired.com/2016/05/the-end-of-code/

    Food … Fresh garden onions in cheap fatty burger, WheatBelly diet promotes the fatty meats, topped with veggies and covered with pepper jack cheese. Yeah not on the grill but in the sauté pan.

    Beer … Crystal Springs Summertime Ale. Sorry, kind of local small craft brewer. Started in a garage up on Sugerloaf Mt west of Boulder and now located in the Lousiville industrial park. http://crystalspringsbrewing.com

    The art of dance … https://www.facebook.com/1736758803210595/videos/1745604255659383/?pnref=story

    1. Stephen Gardner

      Don’t take the end of code nonsense too seriously. MBA sorts have dreamed of replacing everyone’s labor but their own for decades. How are you going to train a computer to do a finite element model of a bridge and solve it? Really, think about it. Humans learn this but it takes years. Are.they gonna read texts or watch lectures to be trained? This is all a Silicon Valley Squillionaire wet dream that happens to fulfill the fantasies of MBAs as well. We engineers worry more about 1-H visas for engineers from impoverished countries than we worry about robots. The Google driverless car is just hype around a science fair project. It works in very limited tests in an area known for good climate. Do they work in Texas gully washers? New England whiteout snowstorms? I didn’t think so. Pardon my skepticism but I’ve seen too many demos in my engineering career to not recognize razor thin applicability hiding behind a good demo.

  40. jgordon

    Not that I ever comment on the artistic merits of photos before someone else mentions it, but I do think that spending an hour or two watching YouTube videos about composition and the exposure triangle would reap immediate and significant in photo quality for the learner. Looking at a really bad picture is cringe-worthy. It’s like looking at someone driving the wrong way on the freeway; a few minutes of learning some basic rules of the road would have prevented it, but the operator didn’t even bother putting that much effort into it.

    Not that I comlain. I fully realize that most people don’t care if their images are amatuer and unremarkable and I tend to leave it at that unless someone specifically asks what I think about a photo when they find out that I do photography. In cases like that I usually only comment on the most egregious error that disqualifies a photo from professional consideration (it’s almost always blown out white pixels in the sky or in lights) and suggest that the person watch out for that next time, which I’ve never done here. However I do make a point of complimenting imaged with positive qualities whenever I see them. Is that bad?

  41. dale

    En Diriamba we celebrate gueguense with an annual festival, and arte gueguense has become a celebrated product of Carazo, and therefore Nicaragua. Now a young man and accomplished artist is laying out a canvas for our home. It will be beautiful, we are sure.

    Memorial Day coincides with Mothers Day here. Our Sunday dinner will be pan fried fish, robalo, or snook in the U.S., tortillas right off the plancha, cuajada, avocados, chilled beets, boiled yuka, and sweet maduros. Tona or Ron Flor de Cana for alcoholic beverages and frescos de pina, calala, and pitahaya.

    1. grayslady

      Sounds like quite the feast! Now you’ve given me a whole new list of dishes to try.

  42. Fred Bennett

    I have a very simple question.
    If robots take everyone’s job who is going to have money to buy the crap the robots are dishing out?

  43. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

    If the OS for robots is anything like the OS for commonly used, mass market “productivity” software, I don’t see robots replacing humans anytime soon. I say this based on my experience of working for the gov’t., where most any weekend they “upgrade” the network and then we are – voila! – magically down for 3-4 hours on the following Monday.

    Art: not sure if this counts since it was a photo, but there was a very fine photo of a heron on NC today under links. I stared in admiration at that fierce looking fellow for a good long while today. He was a total badass.

    I’m not grilling but I am going to sit on my balcony, bask in the sun, drink Peroni, and eat French bread, summer sausage, and brie. Does that count? It seems like a pretty good weekend plan to me.

  44. different clue

    While this thread is still fresh . . .

    For people interested in Permaculture, the farm-oriented publication Acres USA devoted its May Issue to a focus on Permaculture. It only occurred to me to point this out now. Why even bother?

    Because . . .Till recently Acres USA would give you One Free Issue of their magazine for you to see if you liked it enough to subscribe. And the remainder of May might be “not too late” for inquiring people to get their One Free May 2016 Issue if they move fast enough in the days remaining.
    Here is the link. https://www.acresusa.com/

    Maybe they don’t do that anymore. But maybe they still do.

  45. voteforno6

    I see that the Clintonistas are still whining about the aborted (for now) Trump – Sanders debate. Bernie essentially pulled Trump’s pants down in public, and these knuckleheads on the Democratic side of it are reflexively complaining about Sanders. I thought they were supposed to be the politically savvy ones in this race.

  46. Archie

    Bernie was an interview guest on Bill Maher’s show tonight. It was a very good spot for him and, color me surprised, but Bill actually sounded some alarms about the Hillary email tarball. Can we allow ourselves to be just a little bit optimistic? I hesitate since I have recurring nightmares of Lucy pulling away the football.

    1. voteforno6

      I hate to rain on a parade, but I don’t think that the OIG report, as bad as it is for her, will result in criminal charges for Clinton, unless there are criminal penalties associates with noncompliance with the applicable statutes on records keeping (which I doubt). The only criminal charges that could come from this are for mishandling classified information (which Obama could easily wave away, since he’s the ultimate classification authority), or possibly if something incidental arose as part of the investigation (such as stumbling on something concerning the Clinton Foundation). That sort of investigation would drag out for a long time, I suspect.

      That being said, the OIG report was not good for her. A person could reasonably suspect that she was hiding something.

      1. Archie

        “That being said, the OIG report was not good for her. A person could reasonably suspect that she was hiding something.”

        Yes, that is exactly what Bill (heretofore a pragmatic anti-Trump and therefore pro-Hillary supporter) was talking about. He still doesn’t see her errors and omissions rising to the level of criminality, but her repeated feints and changing narratives have left him in serious doubt about her credibility AND her claim that she is best positioned to take down the Donald. Still more than 1 and 1/2 weeks to CA primary and the story is finally getting traction since the State Dept. report. Another week of pundit rehashing and who knows?

  47. polecat

    I, have only one question………can these robots spit in your food ??

    I’m not viewing art …..I’m thinking art……like making some new functional ceramic wears…..as soon as I straighten up my studio !!

    As for food…Thai Pork Satay, to be cooked on the new stainless steel grill….ginger/miso spaghetti squash….rice….. and lastly…. home brewed alaskan ale and/or barkshack ginger mead…yuuuuuuummmm !!

  48. timotheus

    1) Robots: the broader semi-academic environment around me is not likely to be taken over by robots but merely squeezed further into money-grubbing worship of the contemporary wisdom being funded at a given moment, with the rewards creamed off a smaller and smaller coterie of “senior” whatevers kept aloft by the labors of more and more brain serfs, who, however, will still be comprised of bony parts rather than titanium.
    2) Visual art: Painting, which retains its fascination although I know it is uncool and retro.
    3) On the grill: Myself as I am recovering from a dooring accident that left me with four broken ribs. Good block of reading time though.

  49. laura

    Voting my lengthy California mail In ballot-with Bernie.
    No decision on what’s cooking yet, but deviled eggs, slaw, strawberry shortcake and two rivers cider, sculpin ipa, track 7 panic, ipa, and sportsball.
    With be thinking of dad’s uncle frank- survivor of the Bataan death march and Corregidor prison camp.

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