The river Temarc, in winter.
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Christmas Eve Eve

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It turns out that saying "Oh, so THAT'S why they call it Boxing Day" is a good way to get punched a second time.
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glenniebun
25 days ago
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Arriving at the point where xkcd and Nancy are making the same joke might be the one bright spot of 2018.
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Cthulhux
24 days ago
I'm curious: who's Nancy?
jerdob
24 days ago
@Cthulhux: https://www.gocomics.com/nancy/2018/12/23
Cthulhux
24 days ago
I see, thank you.
popular
24 days ago
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alt_text_at_your_service
25 days ago
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It turns out that saying "Oh, so THAT'S why they call it Boxing Day" is a good way to get punched a second time.
alt_text_bot
25 days ago
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It turns out that saying "Oh, so THAT'S why they call it Boxing Day" is a good way to get punched a second time.

On the Vile Technology of Self-Checkout Counters

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Time to return to one of my oldest hobby horses: the horror of the self-checkout counter. Between no one knowing how to use them, the fact that companies are asking you to labor for free instead of paying people, and the job destroying side of them, this provides absolutely nothing positive for the world. Kaitlyn Tiffany has a good piece at Vox on these and other problems with them:

I saw a self-checkout in the Urban Outfitters in Herald Square and almost called the ACLU: Some lucky employee sits on a stool near the self-checkout stations and does nothing but remove ink tags from things before you buy them? Sure. What is a person if not just a slightly more dexterous arm than the ones that robots so far have?

Blessedly, I am not alone in fearing self-checkout. John Karolefski, a self-proclaimed undercover grocery shopping analyst who runs the blog Grocery Stories and contributes to the site Progressive Grocer, tells me, “I’m in a lot of supermarkets around the country. I watch people. I can tell you that I’ve been in stores where the lines that have cashiers are very, very long, and people are a little upset, and there are three or four self-checkout units open and nobody is using them.

“Wouldn’t the shopper be better served, customer service improved, if those weren’t there?” he asks. I’m not arguing. “Why do I want to scan my own groceries?” he asks. I have no idea! “Why do I want to bag my own groceries?” he asks. An equally reasonable question with no reasonable answer. The simple solution, he points out, would be to hire enough cashiers to serve the number of customers that typically shop at the store. I agree, and this seems very obvious.

“Unexpected item in the bagging area” is a shared cultural reference like no other. It is recognizable by demographics so broad, the only thing that connects them is that they have at one point attempted to buy something at one of the nation’s largest grocery stores, pharmacies, or fast-food restaurants. It is fuel for memes, and tweets, and Reddit threads. It is the worst phrase known to retail. “Unexpected item in the bagging area” seems to be passive-aggressive code for “are you a shoplifter or just stupid?” and it haunts dreams. One Twitter user suggested that a good idea for a haunted house would just be a series of fake ghosts saying over and over, “Unexpected item in the bagging area.”

Anyone who has used a self-checkout has accidentally put something unexpected in the bagging area and been admonished. They’ve also forgotten to put something in the bagging area and been admonished. They’ve also done seemingly exactly what they were supposed to do and been admonished by some terrible robot nonetheless.

There have been attempts to make this serial berating more pleasant, such as when the UK supermarket chain Morrisons hired Wallace and Gromit actor Ben Whitehead to voice all of its commands, or when another UK supermarket giant, Tesco, decided that its machines should shout, “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” in between each action, or when another British chain, Poundland, replaced all of its voice commands with instructions from an Elvis impersonator.

Stateside, we have made few vocal improvements, but Target did just replace all of its fruit and vegetable menus with emoji, so you can tap on a crying face to indicate that you would like to weigh and pay for an onion.

This constant frustration and humiliation is a contributing factor to the absolute stupidest thing about self-checkout, which is that a full 4 percent of the would-be sales that pass through them are not actually paid for.

Grocery stores have extremely tight profit margins, so that’s a big deal. (Again: We don’t have to do this!) People steal and steal and steal from self-checkout. They type in the price look-up code for bananas (#4011, for your reference) while far more expensive fruits or vegetables or even meat are on the scale. They pull stickers off cheap stuff and put them on expensive stuff. They are ingenious, as humans are when they want to do something that is against the rules. One Australian woman photocopied the barcodes from packets of instant noodles and printed them on sticky labels, which she then brought to the store with her every time she went shopping.

They are modern-day pirates without the violence; Walmart is their East India Trading Company.

As of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3.5 million Americans were employed as cashiers. The bureau’s 10-year forecast shows only a 1 percent reduction of these positions (just under 31,000 jobs), but this decrease has to be understood in the context of another trend: the rise of retail. The National Retail Federation says the sector grew nearly 4 percent last year and predicts it will do so again this year.

Beck tells Vox, “There are a number of reasons why retailers have invested in self-scan technologies. The first and most important is that it enables them to reduce their costs considerably. The largest proportion of a retailer’s cost is their wage bill.”

In one store, he added, he saw one supervisor tasked with overseeing 23 self-checkouts at once.

Why would you participate in this???

And look, I really don’t care about your social anxiety, which is always brought up when I mention this. I mean, I am empathetic. But your social anxiety is not something we can base employment policy upon. That has to be based on what is best for society. Self-checkouts are horrible for society. They are anti-social, they throw people out of work, they make you labor for free. They are significant net negative. And if you hate dealing with people that much, there are delivery services now that limit your social interactions.

If you care about workers at all, do not use self-checkout counters. They are toxic and awful. Ban them.

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glenniebun
54 days ago
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Andy Rooney over here doesn't care about my anxiety, but amazingly, I still do.
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davebelt
53 days ago
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These are great for when your basket is just lube and clothespins.
earth dimension c-138
fxer
54 days ago
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"they throw people out of work, they make you labor for free"

oh man, completely disagree I love the self checkout lines. since the article is full of anecdotes, mine is there is always a line for self-checkout while cashiers lines are empty!

and making my labor free? lots of stores have cashiers but you have to bag your own groceries, how does that fit into the "throwing people out of work" argument?

it seems silly to base employment policy on banning people from doing slivers of menial work themselves; you can't bag groceries, you can't pump gas, how about you can't mow your lawn? you can't pick up your own pizza?
Bend, Oregon
aranth
54 days ago
I want to know why this employee-hating blog owner publishes on the Internet, putting tens of thousands of delivery people, paper factory workers, and lumberjacks out of their jobs.
mareino
54 days ago
It all depends whether you believe that dignity comes from doing (menial) labor, or from having the (meager) income provided by that labor.

libertariancrusader: generalchelseamayhem: davidessman: His...

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libertariancrusader:

generalchelseamayhem:

davidessman:

His restaurant was robbed at gun point, and he was shot in the arm…

The person in this cartoon is intentionally pitting two separate demographics of people with similar grievances against each other.

Implicitly, the veteran thinks that the fast food worker does not deserve $15 per hour because he does not work hard enough for it, whereas veterans have been shot at for a living and still do not receive enough care. The fast food worker’s obvious reaction is to be indignant and provide the veteran with a blow-by-blow account of how he has to deal with the foulest dregs of humanity on a daily basis.

This puts the veteran and the fast food worker on opposing sides: each thinks that the other is in some way holding them back and distracting from their own issues.

This creates a villain for each side to focus on, which distracts them from what should obviously be the primary target, that both sets of people should be teaming up against: a system which can’t even pretend to care about the issues that either of them face.

Divide and conquer.

Politicians do this all the time, and it’s amazing how we as voters keep falling for it. All you have to do is show up in front of a crowd of angry people, and tell those people that an Acceptable Target is to blame. Could be White People, could be The Jews, The Illegals, The Godless Heathens, whatever works. Then all of the disparate groups which should be united against you are instead warring against each other. And at least one of those groups is looking to you to stop the Other Group Menace. Voila, you have a voter base that you can exploit and screw over for as long as the Other Group remains a credible threat.

Of course, sometimes the ploy is not as obvious as that. Sometimes it’s as subtle as this cartoon.

Guess this was my political rant for today.

Very well said!

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glenniebun
91 days ago
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New Game Idea

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It's my Battle Royale game for introverts. Players parachute onto an island then scramble to find a nice quiet place to handout with a small group of close friends and chat.

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glenniebun
250 days ago
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Is this not what Fortnite is? Is that why I've done so badly at it?
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jhamill
250 days ago
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Good idea.
California

Poetry

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A poem, written by Robert Poston in 1921

When You Meet a Member of the Ku Klux Klan

When you meet a member of the Ku Klux Klan / Walk right up and hit him like a natural man;

Take no thought of babies he may have at home / Sympathy`s defamed when used upon his dome.

Hit him in the mouth and push his face right in / Knock him down a flight of stairs and pick him up again.

Get your distance from him and then take a running start / Hit him brother, hit him, and please hit the scoundrel hard.

Pour some water on him, bring him back to life once more / Think of how he did your folks in the days of long ago;

Make a prayer to heaven for the strength to do the job, / Kick him in the stomach, he, a low, unworthy snob.

Call your wife and baby out to see you have some fun, / Sic your bulldog on him for to see the rascal run

Head him off before he gets ten paces from your door, / Take a bat of sturdy oak and knock him down once more.

This time you may leave him where he wallows in the sand / A spent and humble member of the Ku Klux Klan.

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glenniebun
477 days ago
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Floppy Guidance

jwz
2 Comments and 4 Shares
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glenniebun
653 days ago
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Burning floppies was sooooo fun, though. The plastic would melt while still burning, sending little fireballs to the ground. Note: for outside enjoyment only; I'm pretty sure the fumes were toxic.
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StunGod
653 days ago
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I miss Beagle Brothers.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
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