Scenes from the class war

Scenes from the class war September 10, 2013

“I’ve worked in fast-food for 15 years, and I can’t even afford my own rent payments. We just want fairness and to be able to provide for our families. No one who works every day should be forced to be homeless.”

In 1968 we saw fit to pay our poorest workers $3.50 more an hour than we do today, and that says quite a bit about where we’ve gone in the last nearly half century.”

“Many people are asking whether the companies can afford to do this. But the more urgent question is, can the workers afford the status quo?

This is not the way to provide care in one of the fastest growing industries in the country.”

“Poor? Get a job. Work full-time but can’t make ends meet? Be grateful you have a job. Can’t get a better job? You’re being picky. Ah, the bounty of American insults for the less fortunate.”

“In context, ‘Human beings will adjust’ appears to be a remarkable euphemism for ‘We’re going to let poor, sick Americans die on the streets.'”

“What is interesting, however, is the assumption on the parts of Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, all of whom praised Kutcher’s comments, that his remarks are indicative of a conservative political philosophy.”

“The benefit of tax deductions is almost four times higher for high-income earners than lower-income ones.”

Get rid of the deductions that don’t affect me.”

“A West Virginia woman says that she lost everything except two pieces of furniture and a mirror because a bank provided a wrong address to a repossession company while apparently trying to foreclose on a house.”

They screw up someone’s finances and shrug. On the other hand, if we missed a mortgage payment and shrugged, they’d laugh at us and foreclose.”

“Indictments for reality TV stars who accused of defrauding banks in order to obtain approximately $2.4 million in loans: 2. Indictments of bankers who falsified millions of loan documents, defrauded homeowners and investors, evaded local property sales taxes, and committed multiple other frauds large and small: 0.”

“The fund managers get fees, some of the fees get turned into campaign contributions, and everyone wins. Everyone, that is, except for taxpayers who ultimately need to make good on pension promises out of their own pockets if the funds’ investments don’t perform.”

“In fact, no one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States. And there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information.”

Taking the word of a business whose main goal is to make money is a risky venture. ”

“Who isn’t in this room, and how does their absence limit our capacity to answer questions about poverty and violence?”

Closing the gender gap is part of the journey to end hunger.”


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  • Ross Thompson

    The problem with bus systems, in my experience, is that they aren’t quite reliable enough (though probably as good as most poor people’s cars) and they involve a lot of walking. Most of my bus rides involve a mile walk at one end or the other (or taking longer and switching buses repeatedly) and from my experience a bus-rider will have to tell their boss they’ll be late because of bus problems at least once or twice a year.

    That’s a problem with implementation, not something intrinsic to public transport. Go somewhere like London, where there’s a robust bus network, and these concerns are likely to evaporate.

    I commuted by bus / train / tube for about eight years, and yes, there was the occasional time that I was delayed, since I’ve moved to America and been commuting by car, I’ve been delayed more often by traffic accidents.

  • Asha

    Why are you making fun of someone’s accent? That’s kinda… well, silly. If you’re going to make fun of something, pick on her hair!

  • You kinda make my point.

    When it comes to EMERGENCIES, humans handle it better than a computer could.

  • My thoughts are that more accidents are AVOIDED because of human reaction capability, than are caused by human stupidity.

    That’s been my experience. I’ve had no severe accidents ever, but I’ve avoided lots. When I’ve talked to friends who have, it’s either been down to two things. Mechanical failure, and they failed to avoid the accident.

    I don’t see robotic cars solving the mechanical failure issue, and I don’t know that they’d ALWAYS be able to respond better than people could.

  • The fact that I believe that a reliance on slave labor makes one less human? And that if technology achieves the capability to make decisions for us, it’s sentient, which makes forcing it do stuff for us slavery?

    (I have LOTS of 3PO and R2 FEELS, ok?)

    But to return to the Jetsons thing, why would you get a dog, just to have your robot walk it? Doesn’t that take away from the joys of HAVING A DOG?

    It just seems to me that the human ideal of technology we create to save time, sometimes has the side effect of separating us from what makes us people(and no I’m not talking those darn kids and their texting).

    Now, I don’t think DRIVING makes us human. And there are situations and scenarios where I think automated driving is plausible. But these are the considerations I think of, when I hear of automated this and automated that.

  • You do know I pointed out that the elevated/underground rail system here in my city is computer controlled, right? And I linked to airborne automated control systems, right?


  • Seriously though, it’s like Dubya Bush working on that down-home Texas accent to sound like he’s a good ole boy.

    I bet he didn’t sound like that back in the 1960s.

  • “Usually, Snider said, the driverless trains relay their location and status constantly via radio communication to a control centre, where they are monitored and sometimes controlled by human operators. If they lose communication with the control centre for too long, they remain at the station until a SkyTrain attendant arrives to operate them.”

    And bring up autopilot PROVES my point. Yes, planes fly automated, UNTIL an EMERGENCY. Then human operators take over. Now of course, automated vehicles can be equipped to allow the same, but I think if we’re going to do it, combining a high number of automated vehicles with human operated ones is a disaster in the making, so if you do automated vehicles, do it whole hog, and segregate automated vs human operated traffic, which would then prevent human operators from taking over, even in emergencies.

  • Asha

    I just strongly dislike it when people are teased for an accent. The artifice is annoying but it is part of creating a credible ethos for a lot of people. There’s a lot of classism involved in shaming a person for his or her accent and that bugs the shit out of me.

  • dpolicar

    Fair enough.

    Just to be clear, I asked because I wanted to understand your position better; I have no intention of arguing with you about it.

    For my own part, I think creating technologies to efficiently arrange our environment in accordance with our values is something human beings are uniquely good at, and that we are never more ourselves than when we are doing what we are best suited to do. So I suspect that many of the things that you feel separate us from what makes us people, I experience as a joyful and long-awaited embracing of what makes us people.

    But that’s me, and nobody is obligated to share my view of what makes humans human, or people, or more generally of what celebrates our individual and collective spirits.

    Tangentially: if the technology existed to conveniently allow my dog to go to the bathroom whenever she wished, hygienically and safely, without needing me to be involved, I would implement it and be grateful; I think that would be far more respectful to her as an agent than the current arrangement, when she needs my permission to do so. But I’ll admit, I’m a little irrational on this particular subject: I spent a few weeks requiring assistance to go to the bathroom after my stroke and it was kind of a traumatic thing for me.)

  • Having fenced yards, for me dog walking wasn’t something you did so they could go poo, but something you did for fun, to spend time with your dog, to bond. So my statement about dog walking wasn’t from the perspective of needing to do it for necessary reasons, so your observation is one I agree with.

    Of course, having fenced yards, we already have that technology, it’s called a doggie door! :^D

  • dpolicar

    I certainly agree that walking outdoors is one way to bond with a dog. It’s not one I use much with my own dog, as neither my husband nor I are really outdoors people, but she seems happy enough with her life just the same. There’s all kinds of ways for families to have fun and spend time together.

  • Good lord, reading that link? The textbook makes me feel like I’m drowing in maple syrup, it’s that sappy a portrayal of the ~brave South~.

  • Asha

    I agree with the article. The comments insult all Southerners as being ignorant jackasses. I kinda resent that, and it insults all the fucking growth I’ve had to do as a person.

  • AnonaMiss

    When it comes to emergencies, humans handle it better than computerized systems designed in the past few decades, without access to many modern developments in electronic sensors, image/pattern recognition, miniaturization, wireless communication, etc. would.

    Planes mostly fly themselves using technology from decades ago. The fact that pilots haven’t been completely phased out yet doesn’t mean that they can’t be completely phased out.

    (FWIW, while I think automated highway driving will be included in cars marketed to the average consumer before 2030 barring legislative bans, I suspect that residential and city driving will take another 50 years or so, because of the importance of reading pedestrian body language.)

  • I agree, I’m just saying that the perspective on the dog NEEDING to walk wasn’t one I was thinking of when I brought up the Jetsons example with Astro.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) Understood.

  • dpolicar

    I generally expect that when self-driving cars (highway or otherwise) become sufficiently common (say, 2% of the cars on the road, just to be precise) there will be some horrible dramatic accident caused by some glitch in their programming that causes them to behave in ways no human being ever would that turns out to have catastrophic results in some obscure edge case we didn’t test for, and the U.S. will be so horrified by this that it will ban self-driving cars for a generation.

    The fact that, even taking that accident into consideration, the statistics will demonstrate conclusively that far fewer people are injured due to self-driven cars than due to human-driven cars, and that banning self-driven cars will therefore increase the number of injured people in the country, will not in any way change this reaction.

    And I will shake my head and bemoan foolishness.

    But I would love to be wrong.

  • Oh, I’m sure we don’t. An American friend opined that if they tried to air a similar show in the States, they’d have to do it state-by-state rather than nationwide.

  • Jim Roberts

    Eh, I don’t really care about her aesthetics THAT much, Faking a voice to make it seem like you’re a part of a group of people you actually aren’t a part of? That annoys me.

  • Asha

    Hm. When I was in sales, making your accent and syntax match the group you were talking to was something I did on instinct. It makes rhetorical sense to try to find as much in common as possible with a person even if you didn’t know him or her. Even if it as simple as an accent. If you’ve ever had someone get on to you for your accent, having someone try to meet you mid-way feels very gratifying.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    At least until the computer itself fucks up. Or encounters something it’s not ready for.

    Me, I think wrapping the ‘pilot’ and ‘chief flight attendant’ roles together might be a good idea, so you have one person in charge of all operations on the plane, who can also fly it if needs be – at least long enough for the problem to be resolved. Which is pretty much a ship captain’s role, even since before we could navigate those by computer…

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Computers are generally good at reacting really damn quickly and precisely. Not having to think about what you’re doing will accomplish that.

    The problem is that computers don’t think about what they’re doing, and can fuck up remarkably hard, even in a world of its own design (strictly speaking, even if its ‘not that bad of an error’ mathematically, it could have completely nonsensical consequences in the real world.) Hopefully the AI driving a car would be of a higher caliber than the AI seen running directly into a wall in (choose video game), but it’ll never be flawless. Probably react better to a sudden threat, yeah… but it also might convince itself that the road is actually *there* rather than *here* and make a course correction directly into the 7-Eleven. Or just stop working entirely. Redundant systems can help deal with this, but would, of course, drive costs up and reaction times down.

    For this reason, self driving cars should have a manual override, for those times when it decides the median is obviously where it should be turning (or ‘that kid laying in the middle of the road is a distortion, and should be ignored’) Even having a ‘pull over and stop immediately’ trigger would be better than nothing. It’s really just another kind of redundant system – a diversified one!

    Overall, though, driving is a routine activity requiring no creativity – exactly the sort computers excel at. When I was younger, I hated the idea of automated cars… but then I started driving. Seriously, it’s boring as hell and I seem to get hypnotized by the road, not to mention I could be something productive, like posting comments on blogs.

    The only real role for non-automated cars is… I don’t know, emergency vehicles/pursuit.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Of course. That’s exactly what you’d say if you *were*…

  • BaseDeltaZero

    And that if technology achieves the capability to make decisions for us, it’s sentient, which makes forcing it do stuff for us slavery?

    Actually, most animals are sentient (the ability to perceive), that’d make it domestication. You’re thinking of sapient.

    That’s the problem with hardcore automation, by the time you get a computer that’s actually equivalent to a human… you no longer have automation, just a digital slave. At which point, really, you kinda deserve what you get.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I bet they’re not particularly better than at least half the drivers out there when they’re at their best… but you are rarely at your best when driving, because you don’t need to be. Most accidents are caused by not paying attention, i.e., by drivers at their worst.

    Robots have no trouble doing boring stuff forever, and operate at peak performance all the time. Even if their performance is worse than what you could theoretically do, it’s reliable, and you don’t need ‘optimum’, only a consistent ‘good enough’.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    If your definition of ‘better’ is ‘more consistent numbers’, then, well, yeah…

  • depizan

    Shh, you’ll give away my secret identity!

  • Do you realize that this is basically the same argument as gun-rights extremists use? That guns save thousands of lives every year, and that gun control laws can only lead to more deaths since those guns wouldn’t be there to prevent them?

  • David S.

    I’ve seen how well public transport can work in Boston. I don’t live in Boston.

    London has a population density of 13,000 people per sq. mile; the city that I live in now is more like 5,000. London is a medieval city where streets aren’t big enough to handle all the traffic, discouraging drivers; I live right off a four-lane road built with four-lanes just because people might one day move into the area. London has tube and train to carry you where you need to go rapidly. We don’t, making a 1/2-hour drive across the metropolitan area a 2 hour trek by bus. And all these things compound; a bus system that few use because of convenience is hard to argue for throwing money at to make it more convenient.

  • Fusina

    And, sadly, each state has its own quirks. Although Virginia and Maryland share one, the “talk on the phone while tailgating because I am a moron”. Just got followed by one of those this evening–and to make himself even more irritating, he honked when I stopped at a stop sign. Grrr!!!!!!!

  • David S.

    Again, a plane is not remotely comparable to a car. We’re paranoid about planes at a level we aren’t about cars; if we were willing to settle for the death rate of car travel, I’m pretty sure we could go full automated on a plane. And an emergency on a plane is nothing like an emergency on ground. If you run out of fuel, you can generally slow down safely and pull to the side of the road. When Avianca Flight 52 ran out of fuel, 85 people died.

  • David S.

    I don’t know. Drivers at their best under safe conditions will never cause an accident. Once we start getting into unsafe conditions, the robots have been tested on that. The robots have effectively had the experience of a kid running out in front of them, or a patch of black ice or a car running a stop sign. Exceedingly few drivers can say the same.

  • Ross Thompson

    I’m pretty sure the pilots are just there to make the passengers feel better.

  • Jim Roberts

    I do that as well – my parents from Southern Ontario stay for more than a week, my Canadian accent comes back, when I spend a lot of time with my wife’s grandad, I start getting a New England accent. This is the voice she puts on when she’s talking to all of America. It’s not about meeting people halfway, it’s about performance.

  • A big part of the problem with all “Just use the bus”-based solutions is that they assume that time is freer and less bounded than other resources. That it’s in some way a win for people who are already working two full time jobs to spend an extra hour every day away from their families riding the bus.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Yeah, that’s… pretty much what I said. Crashes tend to occur when one or more drivers make a mistake, and computers are pretty darn good at consistent…

  • Tapetum

    The most impressive accident scene I’ve ever seen involved a semi and a road-cleaning crew. The crew was working by the side of the road with their van parked behind them, and the safety truck about 50 yards behind that. The safety truck has the giant arrow, and is a big heavy vehicle, basically designed so that if it’s hit, it won’t move much, and the accident won’t get as far as the workers.

    The semi came over the hill going about 75, and apparently not paying good attention. Saw the arrow and safety truck, managed to shift lanes in time to avoid it, and then in an astounding feat of driving control and shitty reflexes, managed to shift back into his original lane in time to hit the second truck dead on, plowing it into the poor road crew. Killed all involved.

  • aim2misbehave

    Oh, California motorcycle laws…

    One of the crazier things that motorcycles are allowed to do is “lane-splitting” which means that they can move between lanes of vehicles, ie, on the dashed white lines. This isn’t really a safety issue if you’re in LA rush hour traffic or on the 405 at any hour, because at that point the traffic is going very, very slowly. But, of course, some motorcyclists do it anyways when traffic is going at full speed…

    One time I nearly got in a crash because I was making a left turn from the left-turn lane, and the lane-splitting motorcyclist to my right decided it was also a good time to make a left turn. And that he would be able to pass me (on my right) while we were both making that left turn. Since I, of course, was looking in the direction that my car was going, I didn’t see him until the last second, and I don’t know how I managed to put on the brakes before I ended up slamming into him from behind.

  • Fusina

    Mmm, I don’t think they enforce the “only drive for x hours then don’t drive for x hours” rule, which is supposed to eliminate the most egregious driver errors. I was at a red light, it turned green my way, I went across the highway, and a semi ran the red light behind me, blowing his air-horn–I guess he wanted me to hear him before he ran me down–or he couldn’t stop for some reason and was warning the drivers behind me. The kicker? The semi was going uphill.

  • Original Lee

    I was so happy when I finished paying off my student loans, because that meant I could tell Wells Fargo to take a flying leap. And it felt *wonderful*.

  • Original Lee

    Even then, patient dumping is totes OK by him. I know of 3 people who died due to seriously deliberate negligence at a particular hospital within the past year or so, yet Cuccinelli made sure to give the hospital a Teflon coating.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    And the sad part is that I’m not even surprised.

  • caryjamesbond

    No one is making fun of down home accents. They’re making fun of people who FAKE down home accents. Just the same as making fun of the person who comes home from two weeks in France and keeps saying “Oui!” instead of “yes” isn’t making fun of the french- it’s making fun of the artifice.

  • AnonaMiss

    The fact that I believe that a reliance on slave labor makes one less human? And that if technology achieves the capability to make decisions for us, it’s sentient, which makes forcing it do stuff for us slavery?

    Ah – but at the point of robotic sentience, they are effectively creatures which have ‘evolved’ (whether due to human tinkering or actual evolutionary algorithms) to perform their tasks. Like the cow at the restaurant at the end of the world.

  • caryjamesbond

    Actually, especially in Emergencies, the first thing that pilots do, 90% of the time, is open a book with a careful checklist, and follow it to the letter.

    The “landing on the Hudson” type emergencies are so mind-bogglingly rare they can be completely ignored as a problem, any more than you’d take out meteor insurance on your house. Pilots are largely there because people wouldn’t feel safe otherwise.

    Simply put- machines are better than us in situations that require- a. quick reflexes, b. lack of fear, c. automated, repetitive tasks. Every part of driving ever could be described thusly. Especially, since most accidents happen because either of something the driver can’t detect- black ice, for example, or because one driver made an error in judgement-crossing into the wrong lane while sleepy.

    Both of these are errors machines are designed to compensate for. The incredible few accidents that AREN’T like that…..well, its like those accidents where people are saved because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Yes, it could happen, but statistically- buckle up.

  • caryjamesbond

    Even slight inconsistancy can cause issues. I’m going 2 mph faster than the guy in front of me, so I sloooowly close the gap by five feet, so when he slams on his brakes I can’t quite stop…..

    A robot car is going EXACTLY 65.00000 mph and is EXACTLY 50.0000 feet from the car in front at all times. That alone would eliminate a LOT of accidents.

  • Oswald Carnes

    She grifts hard for the money.

  • To wit, within a month one way or the other of the Miracle on the Hudson, there was a very similar incident in Italy. That pilot panicked. Everyone died. (There were some not very nice people who were crowing about this, because apparently the cockpit recorder revealed that the pilot said prayers during his panic, thus, said the not very nice people, proving that religion sucks.)

  • Alix

    I have also seen some pretty terrifying instances of road rage, and many many more of people deciding to play highway hotshot. The whole reason I refuse to drive at the moment is because humans are behind the wheel of those cars.