Made In The USA: More Stuff, We Hope (With Bonus Cremation Content)

Credit where credit is due: his early actions have torpedoed some American jobs, but as of today Joe Biden is also taking executive action to encourage/force the government to buy American-made goods for contract fulfillment. This is more important than it sounds because government contracts are often long-term, allowing companies to build up capacity that can then be used for civilian sales, avoiding the chicken-and-egg problem that has beset would-be domestic producers.

(How’d the Chinese beat the chicken-and-egg problem in their manufacturing spin-up? By printing money to be used exclusively for business loans with low expectations of repayment.)

President Trump also did a lot to return manufacturing to these shores, of course; let’s hope President Biden continues to emulate his immediate predecessor in this respect rather than continue the Clinton/Bush/Obama policies that often created staggering incentives for offshoring.

Last week, one of my readers at Hagerty expressed a wish that I would get killed in my Neon. He’s not going to get his wish; the rollcage in that car is rated up to and including “failed Snake River jump”. If, however, I manage to die some other way, I’ll definitely want some Ohio pride in my cremation, which brings us to the second half of this post.

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Weekly Roundup: Woo For Its Own Sake At The End Of Tech Days Edition

Alright, let’s get it off our chests: When Wednesday happened, when Lady Gaga had un-self-consciously re-enacted The Hunger Games, and when it became apparent to even the dimmest among us that Trump and “Q” were not going to descend into the vaguely Riefenstahl-esque walled-off self-celebration/bad-poetry-slam with a Blackhawk chock-full of pedophile-grabbing grapples like the ones used in the Christian Bale Terminator movie, what was your first thought?

I’ll personally admit that my first thought was selfish. I didn’t think about the end of the American oil industry, or the promised gun confiscation, or the female athletes whose scholarships just vanished into thin air, or all that business about structuring the economy around issues of racial justice and climate justice. All I could think was: Well, that’s the end of the tech biz.

What the American press won’t tell you, the Indian press is shouting from the rooftops. Biden is promising “the infusion of hundreds of thousands of visas per year”. Let me repeat that:

The infusion of hundreds of thousands of visas per year.

Mr. Biden famously told unemployed coal miners that they should learn to code. I hope none of them listened, because as career advice in the Biden era, “learn to code” will be slightly less useful than “learn to play the accordion”. For God’s sake, there are only 1.46 million software development jobs in the whole country. Ask yourself a question in the format the meme kids love:

What percentage of software development jobs will be given to new visa holders, and why is it 100?

Like him or loathe him, Trump was good for middle-class American jobs, particularly in tech. I watched pay rates increase by a full third during the first two years of his administration, and had I stayed in tech rather than departing for the editorial lyfe, yo, I could have looked forward to further raises.

If you’re wondering why Big Tech mounted such a full-court press against him, now you know. It wasn’t to protect America’s womyn, nor was it to ensure the dignity of (insert your favorite group here). It was to reset labor costs back to the Obama years, and then some. Just as importantly, it was to take white and Black employees out of these jobs and replace them with people who can be dominated via the iron band of visa control. If you’ve never worked in tech, you’ve never seen how that control is used. The visa holders are the first people in the office and the last ones out. They never raise their voices to disagree, they never refuse a task no matter how degrading or unnecessary. It’s actually terrible for software development, because without anyone to say “No” you wind up with catastrophically complicated projects. But it makes the bosses feel goooooood.

Whatever. It’s done. Elections have consequences. Onwards with The Great Reset, amirite? Nevertheless, this Brave New World will force me to do at least one dangerous thing, and it’s this: I have to disagree with Scott Locklin.

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1935 Chevrolet Master Deluxe: It’s A Sign!

NOTE: Another one from Lee Wilcox. -TK

Just west of Huntsville Texas, there is an old coupe still providing a service of sorts. It is unlikely that anything on it will break the way it’s being used and it has been painted in defense against the few straggling Tin Worms that have managed to survive in the area. These days it spends its days as a bar sign, but it’s also a sign of times gone by. Once upon a time, this was a 1935 Chevrolet.

This car is a little further beyond just being a non-runner, more an artifact than a motor vehicle. But it has been “restored” in some fashion. Need replacement parts for a 1935 Chevy? No problem, let’s just head down to Home Depot or Lowe’s! There is no glass with the exception of the headlights and a single taillight; all the other “windows” are gray-painted plywood. On the passenger side, the entire door is painted plywood. The driver’s door has a vent window that helped to identify it, but our faux passenger door does not.

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The Worst Job In The Supermarket, The Limits of AI, And That Tablet Essay

About three years ago I wrote about the ethics of stealing from automated supermarkets. In the short space of time since then, theft from the machines is way up, perhaps aided by attitudes like this. Looking back at that little essay, however, I think I missed one of the most important aspects, perhaps the most important aspect, of the changeover to self-checkout, namely:

How to turn four unhappy-ish jobs into a single miserable one.

So let’s talk about that. And we’ll look at that hotter than hot essay on TabletMag, too, because they’re directly related.

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Weekly Roundup: The Men Who Went Their Own Way Edition

Earlier this week, discussing a mountain biking video, commenter stingray65 said:

I can’t quite get my head around the adult performer doing kid’s stunts. There are so many activities that adults continue to do that were things that mostly kids did when I was growing up such as riding bikes (includes jumps, and stunts), playing video games, reading comic books, collecting baseball cards, which tended to fade away as favorite activities once adulthood arrived and bikes were replaced by cars, and video games and comic books were replaced by work, dating, parenthood, and more sedentary adult hobbies (i.e. drinking, smoking, cooking, knitting, car wrenching, woodworking, watching TV). Today it seems that its the kids getting fat because they are more often doing sedentary “adult” activities (i.e. social media) and it is much more common to see middle-aged adults still doing extreme sports (at least the ones featured on YouTube videos), playing video games (with high powered machines and peripheral hardware), and collecting comic books, baseball cards, etc. as “investments”.

I can immediately think of two possible responses here. The first one is that my father was hitting softballs out of the park down in his Hilton Head neighborhood as late as around his sixty-fifth birthday. (Still playing ten years later, just no longer swinging for the fences.) He grew up playing baseball, was a centerfielder for Notre Dame, and played softball much of his adult life. I didn’t play baseball — well, I didn’t play it much, anyway. I rode a bike. So here I am, at forty-nine, still riding a bike. No different from the old man, whom I recall taking his softball very seriously when he was in his forties.

That’s what I like to think of as the “Seen It All, Internet” answer. You know that answer. There’s someone to provide it almost immediately, everywhere from Usenet in 1987 to Reddit in 2021. Nothing’s really changed, you’re making a big deal about nothing, we’ve seen it all before, don’t get excited, I’m so blase and world-weary on this topic and all others… Yet any intelligent reader knows that the “Seen It All” answer almost never applies. There is a tremendous difference between how grown men pass their time nowadays and how they passed their time in 1990 or 1960 or 1650. So let’s take stingray65 seriously and search for an answer to his question.

To begin our discussion, let me tell you about two girls I met in 2013, within a few months of each other. The first one messaged me, before we met, “I just want to confirm that you are actually six foot two, and not lying about it, because I’m every bit of six feet tall and I’m tired of being disappointed.” The second one, who was not six feet tall but also wasn’t that far short of it, told me, somewhere around our second date,

“I’m really only interested in a man who is taller than I am, and who earns more money than I do.” After a brief, self-reflective pause, she asked, “Is that shallow?”

Well, dear readers, is it?

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Review: “A Children’s Bible”, by Lydia Millett

I swear on a stack of copies that it’s a blistering little classic: “Lord of the Flies” for a generation of young people left to fend for themselves on their parents’ rapidly warming planet… “A Children’s Bible” moves like a tornado tearing along an unpredictable path through our complacency. The novel works so effectively because it’s an allegory that constantly resists the predictable messaging of allegory. Millet’s wit and her penchant for strange twists produce the kind of climate fiction we need: a novel that moves beyond the realm of reporting and editorial, a story that explores how alarming and baffling it feels to endure the destruction of one’s world.
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Take this book, eat it up.

You can read the rest of the review, which swerves breathtakingly between garden-variety midwit-ism and rank stupidity, at The Bezos Blog, but I think you get the idea: A Children’s Bible is a book very much of the moment, very much awarded, very much read by The Right People. Last night I took ninety-three minutes away from Call Of Duty: Warzone to read the thing. This was not wasted time; not in the slightest. As a work of fiction, A Children’s Bible is little better than its vampires-and-magic-brooms bookstore contemporaries — but as a lens both into current thinking and my own thought process, it’s pretty good.

(Warning: spoilers for this book after the jump).

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RAD, The Right Way

It’s no secret that I’m not particularly thrilled with the use of the word “RAD” to describe cars. Almost nobody who took the whole “RAD” idea seriously even owned a car back in the Eighties. If they did, it was some kind of ragged-out station wagon with a bike rack welded to the liftgate or a VW Thing kitted out for surf and skate, not a Supra or BMW M6 or what have you. So this is what the kids call “appropriation” nowadays. I like it even less when someone uses the actual logo from the Talia Shire movie, which feels like adding insult to injury.

Oh well. The above short film, starring Bill Allen from the original RAD movie, is far more in the spirit of things. It takes place in and around Bentonville, AR, which has decided to make itself a mountain-bike Mecca. The riding is first rate and then some. It shows how far we’ve come in the past thirty-five years. Just as importantly, it makes the point that you’re only really rad if you’re existing in the moment, not looking to the past.

Another video of note: professional BMX racers (and Red Bull pump track champions) Caroline Buchanan and Barry Nobles remake the original “Helltrack” race here. Sadly, Caroline and Barry’s relationship didn’t last; he left her for a girl who looked just like Caroline but didn’t race BMX. Which suggests that my less-than-RAD insight of 1987 — namely, you’re not going to have a successful relationship if you prioritize your little bike over meeting someone — is more general than I thought!

This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: Mauve Prairie Schooner

As is often the case, I was perusing the FB group Finding Future Classic Cars, which prides itself on showing interesting old cars for sale, rather than the usual Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaros. Anyway, I recently spotted this one and had to share it to the group: A 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car, in a most unusual color combination.

It’s no secret I love these ’70s mastodons, but the color combo on this one really popped out at me. It appears to be Rose Metallic, a color I see usually on the 1976 Mark IV with the Red/Rose Luxury Group. But before now I couldn’t recall ever seeing a Continental sedan in this hue.

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Weekly Roundup: Axe Body Spray And The Approved Police Brutality Edition

From five feet away, he missed the headshot.

But you can’t say he wasn’t trying.

There were many people he could have shot.

He could have shot no one; in fact, after he fired his shot, the crowd dispersed in a manner that suggests it would have done so just as readily had he fired into the ceiling.

Instead, he made a single incompetent attempted headshot that struck Ashli Babbitt in the neck. You can hear her trying to breathe in the video. She’s alive for minutes. There is a single tear rolling from her left eye as it glazes over.

Ashli Babbitt served her country in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates — but it took an American to kill her, inside the building paid for and maintained with her tax dollars.

Shortly after her death, a blizzard of corporations — Chase, Bank of America, Chevron, Citigroup, American Express, Coca-Cola, Axe Body Spray — released statements condemning her murder in the same passionate terms they’d used to condemn the deaths of Jacob Blake, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin.

Just kidding.

They’re totally cool with it, and they want to make sure you know that.

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