Tag Archives: jobs

In the future, we won’t have money, and we’ll all be socialists

My ideal vision of the future has always been as its portrayed in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Humanity has transcended all of the petty nonsense that we’re still fighting about today. Poverty has been eradicated. Common diseases are distant memories of a medical dark age hundreds of years in the past.


Technology in the twenty-fourth century (while admittedly looking more and more dated as the twenty-first century marches on) makes everything accessible to everyone. If you want something, you can fabricate it out of one of the ship’s many onboard replicating machines. It’s the same with food, just speak into the box, tell it what you want, and zap! There it is, bon appetit. Entertainment via the Holodeck is so much more immersive than the trivial pastimes we occupy ourselves with today.

And it’s more than just food and games. Transportation is completely reimagined. With transporters and faster-than-light warp drives, traveling to and from work must be a non-issue. People of the future don’t have to take the subway anywhere. The whole idea of commuting is probably as antiquated as a horse-and-buggy seems to subway riders today.

My point in all of this is to look at our own technological advancement. I’m a firm believer that we’re well on our way to not only achieving, but probably surpassing all of the feats of advancement on display in Star Trek. Three-dimensional printers are just becoming a commercially viable commodity, and so the ability to replicate various objects might soon be a reality for the developed world. Similarly, as driverless cars inevitably take over the roadways, traffic, parking, car accidents, they’re all bound to become headaches of the past.

And as technology takes over more and more of the heavy lifting involved with day-to-day life, how is this going to affect the economy, our sense of wealth, our very definition of the word liberty? I ask this because, in Star Trek anyway, everything is free. Futuristic machines are so ubiquitous that it wouldn’t make sense to charge anybody for goods and services. No, the very idea of currency does not mesh with the utopian economy built on a foundation of infinite clean energy.

If we ever get there, or to some version of something like the world they have on Star Trek, how are we going to make that transition? How are people in charge going to give up their ability to demand a percentage of our own personal wealth in exchange for whatever it is they have to be offering? Or will things stay the same way they are now, a group of people at the top taking a greater percentage of what I would argue should be equally divided?

Take transportation as an example. Let’s look at taxicabs. A driver might not own his own car, he might lease it from a central dispatching agent. But in the process of me getting from point A to point B, I’m paying the driver, and ultimately those profits go on to not only sustain the greater taxi company, but to support the driver’s income.

And so what happens when that driver’s job is replaced by a computer? Is the price of a ride going to go down? I can’t imagine any taxi company willing to lower the fare. I mean, the fact that we’re willing to pay a certain price now shows that the amount is somewhat reasonable. So what’s happening in this potential scenario is that the owner of all the taxis, now free from worrying about assuming the liability of hiring drivers, gets to take home all of the profit, leaving a now unemployed segment of the workforce to look for some other means of earning money.

As technology takes over more and more aspects of society, where is everybody supposed to work? It’s just going to increase this divide, that those in power, those currently with wealth, they’re going to maximize and multiply what they currently have, leaving everyone else with a constantly shrinking piece of the pie.

There are signs that it’s happening already. Look at music and writing. When I was growing up, a CD cost about fifteen bucks. I got a physical object, and a lot of people made money producing that object, selling those objects, it was all part of a system. It was the same way with books and booksellers. But now those commodities are largely digital. We’re getting the same product, the same work of art, but there’s no longer the economy supporting the manufacture and sale of those goods.

And the prices aren’t really that much cheaper. Songs are over a dollar each on iTunes, and publishing companies and authors are constantly fighting with Amazon over how much a digital book should cost. Because as technology grows, the idea of currency doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know how they did it in Star Trek, but they somehow got to the point where nobody pays for anything. People with a lot of money had to give up their extreme riches in order for everybody to share in the wealth and utopia ushered in by a golden age of technological progress. I think we’ll eventually have to deal with how that’s going to work in current society. And it’s going to be tough.

If machines do most of our work, is there still going to be that mentality where you have to work forty hours a week? If poverty doesn’t exist, are we still going to judge those least fortunate for their lack of a work ethic? If you had all of your basic needs met and didn’t really have to do anything, would you still toil away at a job that you didn’t like? In Star Trek, nobody has to, and nobody does. They find something they want to do because they enjoy it, and money isn’t a problem. I have no idea how we’re ever going to get there, but I hope that we do, because the future is coming whether we like it or not.

My best friend Craig

I want to take a minute and give a big shout out to my best friend. Craig, you’re the greatest. I’ve never felt closer to anybody else in my life. And even though you took that job in Cincinnati a year and a half ago and, yeah, we haven’t really seen as much of each other as we used to, I just want to let you know that, Craig, I hold our friendship in a very special place in my heart. And I guard that special place. It’s protected. Because you’re a special guy. Craig, you’re my best friend.


Even though you got married last month, even though I wasn’t invited to the wedding, that’s cool Craig, and yes, I completely understand. Not every wedding is a big deal, sometimes it’s nice to have a more intimate ceremony, I get it. And the bachelor party that you had in Vegas a few weeks before? It’s cool man, you were probably just looking out for me, you know how much I hate flying, right, and gambling. It’s not that I hate it, I just suck at it, and so you actually did me a huge favor, saved me from losing my rent money at the blackjack table. So thanks dude, you’re a good friend. You’re the best.

And no, I wasn’t stalking you on Facebook, so I’m sorry if this is all coming off as a little intrusive. But I was talking to Phil a while back and he mentioned something like, “I bet you can’t wait for Vegas, right?” and I was like, “Vegas?” and he was like, “Oh, you know what? I don’t know what I mean … I meant … I mean … weren’t you going to Vegas? Maybe that was someone else. Maybe that was … uh … I forgot what I was going to say.”

And I let it go, I mean, I could tell that something was up, but I didn’t want to get in his face. And even though I tried, I couldn’t shake the feeling, like it was so obvious that Phil thought I had been included in something that I clearly wasn’t a part of. So when everyone was out to lunch I started snooping around the office and, you remember Carl, right? I think you guys worked together for a little while after college, and then I started working with Carl, I forgot how it even came up, but yeah, we were talking one time about our mutual acquaintance.

Yeah, that’s how it came up, it’s just coming back to me now. I had been working here for a few months and one day everyone was out for drinks after work. And I’ve never really understood what the protocol is, like what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate for friend requesting your coworkers. Like, I see you guys every day, obviously I think we should be friends on Facebook. But does it come across as too strong if one day I’m just going down the list requesting coworker after coworker?

So I was out after work that one day and Carl was on his phone, I saw him scrolling through his News Feed and I said, “Hey man, you’re on Facebook?” like it was a question, even though it was a stupid question, of course he’s on Facebook, of course I’m looking at his cell phone screen over his shoulder, I should’ve just kept pretending to mind my own business. But I whipped out my cell phone and I was like, “Friend request sent!” totally over the top, but in a self-aware way. Maybe it was too self-aware. Maybe that’s why I never saw Carl out for drinks after that.

Anyway, yes, now that I’m saying this all out loud, it does seem a little crazy, me remembering the one mutual Facebook friend Carl and I had in common, you. Me, waiting for Carl to go on his lunch break, then going over to his computer and searching your name under his Facebook account, confirming what I already kind of knew to be true, that you did the Vegas bachelor party thing, that I wasn’t invited, that for some reason you changed your privacy settings to deny people like me from seeing what was going on while allowing people like Carl to see status updates and photos from the trip on his News Feed.

Craig, it’s cool, man, you’re my best friend. And yeah, sometimes you go through huge chunks of time without talking to your best friend. I mean, this is a big planet, and life has a way of pulling us in many different directions. So it’s not totally unreasonable for two best friends to go a couple of years without speaking or answering each other’s phone calls or returning any of each other’s text messages. Did you get a new phone number? Like a Cincinnati area code?

It’s cool dude, next time you’re in New York, give me a shout, OK, I’ll buy you a beer, we can catch up on old times. Did I tell you that Diane and I are expecting our second kid? Yeah man, it’s going to be a boy. I was thinking about naming him Craig, after you, after my best friend. Would you be the godfather? I mean, you only have to be as involved in little Craig’s life as you want to, but if you did want to, I mean, you could be like as into his life as possible. You could be like his second dad. Hey, if anything happens to Diane or me, would it be cool if I listed you as the guy that gets to raise the boys? No pressure, if you say no, that’s no, that’s cool. But just think about it. And if you and … what was her name, your new wife? I’m really anxious to meet her. But if you guys have kids and you want to do the same, Diane and I would be more than happy to … I’m getting carried away.

But I miss you man. I wish some of those jobs that I applied to in Cincinnati would at least give me a call back. It’s like, you don’t understand man, I’ve applied for everything. I went to Cincinnati craigslist and I sent my resume out to pretty much every listing available. Is there anything open by you? Just let me know.

Craig, I love you dude. I hope we get in touch soon. Man I hope you read this and you give me a call. Don’t worry if it’s like five years from now, you stumble across this and you think, shit, it’s probably too late now to reach out. It’s not too late. I don’t care if it’s like five, ten, thirty years from now, just give me a ring man, it’ll be like we never lost touch. Because it won’t be weird or awkward, it’ll just be two best friends, hanging out, catching up on old times, shooting the shit.

Seriously, Craig, dude, give me a call man. For real.

I’d better update the resume

Every once in a while I’ll get this urge, something like, you what Rob? You’ve got to turn it all around. What are you doing here, waiting tables, writing nonsense on this blog? You’re losing it, man, you’ve still got time to make something of yourself, of your life. You’ve just got to get out there, you’ve got to get hungry. Are you hungry Rob? You better start looking, come on man, making some opportunities. You better update the old resume.


And then I get a physical reaction in my stomach, shit, my resume. Where is my resume? I look in the documents folder, scroll down to R. There are a few files, resume.docx, resume(1).docx, down the line, all multiple files that I’ve saved with the same title. Every time I do it, I’m not really changing anything, a date here, some made-up achievement over there, I click save and my computer tells me, “Rob, a file named resume already exists. Do you want me to save this anyway?” and I’m like, “Yes, computer, just save it, just save all of them, just push them under the rug, OK, stop judging me computer, I know, all right, I’m well aware of how many resume files I have, that they’re all basically identical, minor variations of the same baloney document.”

What am I doing in the documents folder anyway? It’s much easier to just head to my email outbox, just find the last time I’ve sent out a resume, that’s got to be the most updated version. March? Really? Yikes. I guess I’d better take a look and see what I’ve got to work with.

OK, everything seems … basically the same really. I’ve just to change all of the 2013s to 2014s and … and what? This is terrible. This is just a really, really bad resume. I can feel whatever it was that motivated me to find this resume in the first place start to die down a little. Like, maybe I’m not doing so bad, sure, I’m getting a little sick of the same-old, same-old, but it’s not that bad, not really, not worth going through all of this … this resume stuff.

Because man, college was a long time ago. And yeah, the Peace Corps, that was something substantial, that a pretty big shot of adrenaline to the heart of my resume. At least, it was back in 2011 when I got back. I think it’s started to look a little dated again. I can already see the interview in my head, “So Rob, what have you been up to for the past two and a half years?”

Ha. That’s funny. This resume would never lead to an actual interview. Even if I did manage to spruce it up. What would I do with it? I’d send it out. Where would I send it to? To a bunch of random email addresses that I found on the Internet. I’m sure that ten thousand other people aren’t doing the same exact thing. I’m sure that whatever’s inside of my resume will be just the thing that gets my name out there, prompts someone in charge of hiring to reach out and get in touch with me.

And for real, where am I going to send this thing to? What am I looking to do exactly? I browse all of the listings on craigslist and I’m left with even more questions. What are all of these companies searching for in an employee? You know, besides being a motivated, eager, self-starting go-getter who works great both independently and as part of a team.

Why is five years experience “a must” for a job that starts at less than thirty thousand a year? Why is everything on this job listing either “a must” or “a plus?” Ability to finish projects is a must! Knowledge of Microsoft Office is a must! Being open to work through the weekends is a plus!

I can’t even look anymore. You know, I guess my job isn’t that bad right now. Sure, I don’t want to do it forever, but man, I can’t make sense of craigslist anymore, everything’s blending together, all of these duties and responsibilities, nothing’s really explained, why do so many hiring managers write out their job postings IN ALL CAPS!!!!!! WHAT KIND OF PERSON WOULD I BE WORKING FOR THAT SEEKS EMPLOYMENT ON THE INTERNET WRITING LIKE THIS?????

And here I am, I’m just making fun of everything, I don’t have a current resume, I don’t think I’d be able to put one together, not really, not with out blatantly making stuff up, even more than the stuff that’s already on there. No, my job’s not that terrible. I have a pretty flexible schedule. I go to work and I’m running on autopilot.

Maybe I’ll go to grad school. That could beef up the resume. That could be something. Maybe I could make up that I already went to grad school and put that on my resume. I mean, it’s not like they’re going to ask to see my diploma, right?

What makes a hero?

What makes a person a hero? You hear the word thrown around pretty casually, hero, like look at me, I spent six months aboard the International Space Station, or, hey everybody, I just landed an airplane in the Hudson River. Everybody knows what I’m talking about, the word hero applied to people simply for doing their jobs. And in the second example, it’s doing your job, but not even doing it correctly, because airplanes aren’t supposed to land in rivers, they’re supposed to touch ground on a runway, in an airport.


Come on, when I was in high school and my car skidded out of control and I swerved onto my parents’ front yard, nobody was giving me any rounds of applause, no, it was just my dad, yelling about how much it was going to cost to fix all of those holes in the grass, which, I never really understood how you can get so angry about a lawn, it’s just dirt, grass will grow there eventually.

No, real heroics involve going beyond the ordinary, which, while you might think my astronaut examples apply, they don’t, because think about it, astronauts today aren’t doing half of the cool stuff that they used to do. Maybe if one of them hijacked a space shuttle and went to Mars, without permission, without even the necessary provisions, and then he got there and he found a Martian space colony, and it spawned this whole new era of interplanetary diplomacy between us and the previously unknown Martian people, maybe that guy would be a hero.

Maybe. But just hanging out in orbit, running space tests and doing routine space work, yes, it’s a lot more exhilarating than say, waiting tables, but I wouldn’t be too quick to apply the hero label. Again, it’s all about exceeding expectations, about going way further above and beyond what people would think you’re capable of.

Which is cool, because it leaves everyday heroics accessible to the average person. You don’t have to go to space, you don’t have to pilot a giant plane, all you have to do is take everybody by surprise with something that nobody would have ever see coming. Like take the waiting tables example, say there was a guy that started to choke, and I rush over to his side, he can’t breath, and so I start pushing down on his chest, I mean, I took a first-aid course years ago, but I can’t really remember the specifics.

And it’s not working, so I grab a knife and start cutting a hole in his throat, a makeshift tracheotomy, but it backfires, I miss something because, again, I have no medical training, at this point I’m going solely off of stuff that I’ve seen on TV. And he starts bleeding everywhere. No, I’m not a hero. Not yet.

So I take a bunch of straws and I combine them into one really long straw, and then I cut myself open and I stick one end of the straw into my veins and the other into his. I have no idea if it’s going to work, I’m not even sure our blood types are compatible. But I get lucky, and it does work, and he survives, and we both wake up in the same hospital room, side by side on two adjoining beds, it turns out this guy is a billionaire, he leans over to me and says, “Son, you were a real hero. You saved my life! And now I’m going to reward you with a huge cash reward.” I’m still not done. I’d then have to deny the reward, say something like, “All in a day’s work,” and then I’d have to go back to the restaurant and say sorry to my boss for missing the rest of that shift.

Then I’d totally be a hero. Because you need that extra layer of adversity, that final level of impossibility that you still wind up conquering. It’s like, again, I’m not trying to knock the Subway Hero, but is that guy really a hero? You know who I’m talking about, right? The guy that jumped on top of the other guy when he fell on the tracks? I’d say, courageous, yes, quick-thinking, definitely, but heroic?

I’m not so sure. He knew exactly what he was doing. There was a space in the tracks where he was able to wait out the train. All he did was position both himself and that other guy into place. Anybody could have done it. No, heroic would have been like twenty people stuck on the tracks, and the train’s coming, it’s barreling out of control down the tunnel, there’s no way this is going to end well.

But then this guy jumps from the platform, he opens up his chest, he’s Superman. He puts his hand out and slows down the train just by pushing it, and then with his super speed he gets everyone to safety before any damage is done. Now that’s a hero, that’s what I call heroics. If you’re not really going that extra step, if you’re not wowing me, then what are you doing? You’re just doing your job. You’re just kind of regular. And again, I’m not saying I’m a hero, so I’m not trying to put anybody else down. But just take a minute, the next time you go to call someone a hero, think about it. Can this person run faster than a car? Does he have X-ray vision? No? Maybe he’s not a hero after all.

Steve Jobs: The blog post

You loved Steve Jobs, the book. What a page-turner. You bought one copy as an actual book copy, and then you bought another book as an iBook copy. And then you read one page from the book and the next page on your iPad. But something happened with the synching, like the pages weren’t exactly the same numbers, and so you wound up reading certain paragraphs over and over again.


But that’s OK, because those paragraphs were awesome. You loved that book, Steve Jobs. And then you got really pumped for the Jobs movie. Finally. It’s bad enough that you had to wait all of those months after he died to read an official autobiography. But now it’s been almost two years since Steve Jobs died, and we’re only just this summer being given a proper motion picture treatment of his life, his work, his beard.

You drank the Steve Jobs soda. Crisp, refreshing, exactly the flavor of soda that you didn’t even know you were thirsty for until you saw it in the refrigerator at Seven-Eleven. That sleek white can, it just said, “Jobs,” and that’s how you knew it was the official Steve Jobs soda, not those unlicensed, “Steve Jobs: the soda,” cans that came out two weeks ago, some opportunist trying to make a quick buck with an unofficial soft drink. Pathetic.

You always go for the official Jobs brand, like those official Steve Jobs windshield wipers. You’ve changed the wipers on your 2009 Ford Taurus two, three times. And each time, yes, they worked reasonably well after installation. But six months in, that squeaking sound. The last time you replaced them, they faced a different angle, claimed to wipe a bigger percentage of the windshield. But the Jobs wipers wiped an even bigger percentage. A much, much larger surface area. Still not a hundred percent, that would be impossible, you know, barring one, giant, horizontal wiper that wiped top to bottom, over and over again, but that’s a little unrealistic.

And it wouldn’t be that cool white, like your iPod, like the Steve Jobs official backpack. Although that one came in a really cool black also, but not a regular black, it was a matte black. You still bought the white though, a Jobs traditionalist, the only kind of tradition that really defies convention. Officially.

Like that official Steve Jobs haiku released last week:

Steve Jobs was so great

I wish he were still alive

I loved him so, so much

Did you see that extra syllable at the end? Classic Jobs, ever the innovator. I wasn’t supposed to post that here, so if you just read it, you really should go to the iPoetry store and buy your own copy. And then you can read it as many times as you like. While you’re there, you should check out Steve Jobs, the sonnet, the limerick, and the acrostic. Each one of them, truly, inspirational, a real game changer, to the world of poetry, to the English language. Even this blog post, even though it’s an unofficial Steve Jobs blog post, it’s talking about Steve Jobs, I’m writing down the name Steve Jobs.

And so you get it. Steve Jobs was our generation’s Thomas Edison. Right? Only, when you think about it, all Edison did was invent a light bulb. Well, and other stuff, the record player, something with magnets. I don’t know. Maybe that was cutting edge a hundred years ago, but come on. You take all of Edison’s greatest inventions and they don’t even compare to Jobs’s worst invention. And yeah, that’s kind of a moot point, because Jobs didn’t have any worst inventions, or innovations, or whatever. I’m just saying, light bulb, iPad, I’ll stick with the iPad thanks. I can always just download a light bulb app. And then I’ll never use it, because there’s no need to, my bedroom is already plenty illuminated by me reading Steve Jobs again, the white background is brighter than any stupid bulb.

Can anybody lend me a few thousand dollars? I really want to buy up every seat for the Jobs midnight showing tonight, so I can watch it by myself, in a big theater, and then I can walk out and see everybody else lined up for the next showing, and I’ll just look at them and say stuff like, “I’m not going to say anything, just … just … wow. Just wow. Just really, you guys are in for a treat, you guys are just … wow … you guys are just, really, really … holy shit man … wow.”