Riff Raff: Observations, thoughts and prayers, political jiggering, and King Tut’s grandma

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 824 views 

The original intro for this essay was scrapped after that horrible thing in Vegas. Insanity. Y’all can send your loads of thoughts and prayers, but don’t expect real leadership on the myriad of issues delivering such violence. Walls, travel bans, kneeling, standing, tweets and late-night comedians won’t fix the troubled among us.

And then Petty (If it’s true.). When’s that medical marijuana become available?

• A thought no matter your political leaning. When a politician or government official, especially those with an office in the nation’s capital, talk about crafting a tax policy or a new budget plan or a “reform” program and do so with the promise of creating jobs, give it a second thought. And a third and a seventh.

Most of the folks mean well. Probably. Maybe. Maybe not.

No matter the intent, future job creation either has or will soon grow less a result of the lobbyist-induced base-pandering Goldbergian jiggering that comes out of federal or state legislative bodies and agencies. Technology is disrupting the rate of job destruction (See, Schumpeter) and creation of new jobs and/or jobs we don’t yet know exist. This is not a new revelation. To wit, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne noted in their 2013 University of Oxford study that among 702 occupations, 47% of U.S. workers held jobs likely to be lost to automation. Who would have thought just a few years ago that taxi drivers were at risk. Not just from Uber or Lyft, but from autonomous vehicles.

The Pew Research Center surveyed around 1,900 technology and automation experts and found that 48% see a future “in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers — with many expressing concern that this will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order.” The more optimistic see a future in which many jobs are created by technology, but not at the pace jobs are automated out of existence. But nothing causing societal disorder.

The impact will be broad. A couple fellows in England recently farmed a plot of land without a human ever touching the property. Called the “Hands Free Hectare,” the project resulted in lower production than a field farmed with traditional means and with higher costs. But it was their first attempt. We know how this ends.

Government policies and new laws, no matter how well-intended, are unable to anticipate the human and capital needs of such disruption. What’s worse, their response will likely be hijacked by politics birthed in the economic realities of three or four decades distant. (This note does not include a solution. No clever insights. Just a point of perspective.)

• Some scientists just won Nobel Prizes for sleep studies. Just in time. My wife is asleep in less time than the Jeopardy jingle plays for the final question. Not just mild dozing sleep, but wouldn’t-wake-up-if-an-active-tornado-siren-was-attached-to-the-bed sleep.

My brain is a runaway bumper on a pinball machine.

Here’s a typical night. When my head hits the pillow, the tread on my car tires becomes a Car Talk episode. That is interrupted by Blazing Saddles quotes. That’s followed by thoughts on race relations and what might have happened if my career choice was a professional bull rider. Before being thrown from the bull, a great idea for a news story becomes an argument with myself over whether to get up and write down the great idea. Eventually, the idea fades into wondering how much orange juice is in the fridge. That’s followed by trying to remember the great news story idea. Followed by wishing I knew then what I know now during my brief time as a high school quarterback. And then it hits me … the perfect response to that assbag on Facebook who posted unflattering comments about 80’s rock.

I’ve been in bed now for four minutes.

Subjects continuing to snap the neural networks like a damp rolled up towel include Razorback football, the high price of Maker’s Mark, the reasons Clint Stoerner convinces me to not buy a car from Orr dealerships, lessons learned from certain college girlfriends, other great movies and quotes by Mel Brooks (“It’s good to be the King.”), why KFC is better than Popeye’s, legal things to consider to keep my luck a secret if I ever win the big $500 million powerball prize, and if living in an age in which Star Trek technology was real would I be smart enough to get a gig on the Enterprise. Lyrics for the next great country song come pouring into my head. Lyrics for the next great country song are immediately forgotten when the dishwasher dinger sound emanates from the kitchen, followed by mental chuckling at the line, “You look like the piss boy.” (RE Mel Brooks movie).

Have been in bed for 16 minutes. The wife is in deep REM sleep like she just returned from a party at which the bartender was Bill Cosby.

It’s now 2:13 a.m., and I’m on the couch watching TV. The guy with the weird hair is explaining how ancient aliens had sex with King Tut’s grandmother. Thankfully, the Advil PM has kicked in and I stagger to bed. Am ready for sleep. Head again hits the pillow. Soft. Cool. Comfortable. The heavy covers hug. Sleep is finally on the way …

… maybe it is time to rotate the tires.