10 Thoughts On America’s Unrecognized Scourge: Joblessness
from WGBH Radio, Boston, MA
” Thanks to a cocktail of factors – deregulation, globalization, deindustrialization, automation – wealth in the 21st century has become uncoupled from work.”
1. A specter is haunting America – the specter of joblessness. Between Bill Clinton’s Washington exit 17 years ago and Donald Trump’s recent inauguration, about 10 million jobs across the nation have disappeared. Poof. Gone.
2. Friday’s report from the Department of Labor that the economy added 235,000 jobs is good news. “Robust,” is how NPR characterized it. But it’s a gloss on reality. It doesn’t reflect that somewhere between 20- and 40-million able-bodied people of working age have been displaced or dropped out of the workforce.
3. There are huge social, economic, and political implications attached to this still under appreciated phenomenon. The two most obvious: Brexit and Trump’s election. It would be gross over simplification to attribute these tectonic shifts to disappeared jobs alone. But it is reckless and irresponsible not to factor it into public thinking.
I teach WordPress, using wordpress.com. Unfortunately, that option may be coming to an end. If you’re a wordpress.com user, you’ve probably noticed the ongoing succession of user interfaces (beep, beep, boop, anyone?). I’ve had to rip up and re-write class documentation almost every time I’ve conducted a class, which is usually twice a year. This time my students and I were confronted with a dashboard on top of another dashboard, an “improved posting experience” (which is anything but) and a lot of bloat overall. What’s worse, WordPress.com doesn’t seem to be listening. They’ve dumbed-down the posts and pages editors to make them more amenable to mobile devices. Too bad if you preferred what they had before. You can get to the classic editor, but not without jumping through multiple hoops.
I may have to call it quits on the teaching, at least using this platform. It’s too klugey and too confusing for me and for my students. I work with folks who want to create websites and/or blogs, then get on with life with a minimum of fuss. I can’t offer that anymore.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m seriously thinking about moving most of my websites and blogs over to a self-hosted version of wordpress. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about the class. I have a multi-site installation set up for something else (You can set up wordpress so that it will host its own sites. That’s how WordPress.com is set up). I may simply move there and continue teaching if the school will have me under those conditions. Basically, at this point I have my own web hosting and website network. Yikes! Take me home, mommy!
So, anyway, are you guys as frustrated as I am? At this point I feel like taking an example from my country’s revolutionary beginnings and take some pot-shots at the redcoat wordpress.com army:
Is this the end, WordPress.com? Are we really splitting apart?
Oh, yeah, Patriot’s Day was last weekend. We spent a fun afternoon watching Revolutionary War re-enactors battle it out.
Here I am again, catching up over the weekend! Way back when, we were asked to capture an image that represents size and point of view. In a word: BIG.
Getting outside to take pictures is an ongoing challenge, but I had errands to run yesterday and my head was pounding anyway. So, I turned off the computer and put on my coat. That check wasn’t going to deposit itself!
The Boston area is home to many home-grown versions of religion, including and especially Unitarianism and its sister, Universalism. It’s a pretty easy-going creed. The initial idea was that God wasn’t a trinity, but a singular unit. Take that, traditional Christianity! The First Parish Unitarian Church dates back to the 1600s in Arlington, then West Cambridge. Fast forward a few hundred years and you’ve got The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on the corner of Pleasant Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington Center.
The original building constructed so long ago was lost in a fire at some point in the 1950s or early 1960s. I’m not up on my history when it comes to this building, or this denomination. I’m not the worshiping type. However, the church rebuilt in the early 1960s with what I consider to be a pretty ugly but rather striking construction. Minimalist, with some rather stark lines. The bell tower is unmistakable, though, and really, really big:
The building as a whole doesn’t do much for me, but that tower is an Arlington, MA landmark. You can’t miss it!
Well, here we are at 2015. I’m ready for it to be a fine 12 months. I started the year by going back in time. I had to order a new version of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Mine falls to pieces the minute you open it. I didn’t get the requested item for Christmas, so I ordered it online. While I was browsing around I came across another book, intriguingly entitled: “Fannie’s Last Supper.” The author is Chris Kimball, the host of America’s Test Kitchen. He wanted to recreate a meal from the original, 1896 edition. I’m a sucker for stuff like that, so I ponied up and got myself an ebook copy, which I’m reading on my iPad (talk about juxtapositions!).
The book got some bad reviews on Amazon, mostly because the author found most of the recipes in the cookbook to be absolutely terrible. I think he’s being a bit hard on the old girl. That was then and this is now. If you can’t deal with soggy, overcooked vegetables and heavy cream sauce over everything, then do something else. Still, it’s an interesting read with lots of social and culinary history thrown in among the revised recipes and admonitions.
I have a few historical versions of this cookbook: a reproduction of the original, a reprinting from 1918 (with wartime recipes and suggested substitutions, another version from 1951 and another from 1965. The menus change pretty radically along the way, so I guess jellied salad and fish boiled for an hour didn’t withstand the test of time. At some point they swapped out coal stoves and added baking temperatures, thank God. Really, I don’t need to learn how to light and maintain a stove. Checking oven temperature is an absolute necessity, particularly in my crappy old stove. See? If I had the cast iron coal stove, I could have switched it over to gas and it would outlast me by 100 years. So, there, Chris Kimball!
I have to say, I like the book, although he’s very snooty towards Miss Farmer. He did acknowledge her marketing and business sense, since the book is a classic and has been for over a century. It sold like hotcakes the minute it came out. It had precise weights and measures, suggested menus (holy cow!), information about cooking classes at the Boston Cooking School and even a section on cooking for the sick. Toast water, anyone? And how about this for brekkies:
Burp. I’ll get a cramp in my hand if I copy down her suggested dinners. Would I make anything from the original cookbook? Probably not. Some of them really do sound kind of gross and the method of preparation would cook every bit of nutrition right out. Boil that sucker for an hour! Get the deep frier ready and pass the cream sauce.
I’m a history buff, totally in love with the Erie Canal. We spent part of our vacation visiting excavated sites and/or checking out the waterways that are still in use.
I thought the Canal was a bust after it was first built between 1817 and 1825. I was given to understand that trains did it in. Guess I was wrong. The Erie Canal opened the American west and created boom towns along its path: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, etc. It made New York City what it is today (for good or bad!).
The canal was re-dug three times. After the initial dig, it was expanded in the 1850s or 1860s (I don’t remember which). We saw excavations of that, too. The final expansion/re-digging came in the early 20th century, I think in 1911.
The canal was finally superseded by the St. Lawrence Seaway in the late 1950s. Today the 20th century version of the Erie Canal is used for educational and recreational purposes.
The hubby and I visited excavations in Newark, New York and in Buffalo. In fact – and here I go about Buffalo again – there’s a push on to completely renovate the original canal harbor. There are extensive remains of buildings and the tow path there, all extremely well preserved and accessible to the public. Check out some photos of the site, which opened in 2008: