USA No, Elsewhere Yes – WIF Edu-tainment

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Things You Can Do

in Other Countries

You Can’t Do

in the USA

 

The citizens of the United States of America like to consider themselves one of the freest countries in the world. However, the truth is actually a lot more complicated than that. The United States enjoy some of the most lax laws in the world when it comes to saying whatever you please, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to being free to do what you want to do. In many countries around the world, it is perfectly legal to do many things people wish they could do in the States.

 10. In The Czech Republic You Can Use Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are the common given nickname for a class of mushroom that has an active compound called psilocybin that can have very strong psychedelic effects when ingested. Of course, most people who find this mushroom intriguing will need to accept that it is beyond their reach, as it remains in the realm of the black market of illegal drugs. That is, unless they are willing to live in the right, very specific country.

In the European country of the Czech Republic, mushrooms are actually mostly decriminalized, making it fairly easy to use them or get your hands on them. While it is not legal

 to sell mushrooms, import them into the country, or buy them, it is perfectly okay to own small amounts and grow them yourself. The law was likely set up this way so that their citizens could have their own freedom, without too strongly encouraging tourists to come to their country just to get a chance to go on a drug trip. Also, in the country of Brazil psilocybin is mostly legal, but only because of a technicality and the fact that no law has yet been written to correct it – this is mainly because it isn’t really a problem there in the first place.

9. In Mainland China People Often Allow Their Young Children To Pee In Public

China is known for being overpopulated despite having had a one child policy for a long time. Their major cities are also especially known for being overcrowded, and as such they have to deal with certain cultural situations in different ways. Not long ago, a Chinese couple from the mainland caused a stir because they were visiting Hong Kong, and allowed their small boy to pee into a diaper in a public space. This was quite controversial to do in Hong Kong, but in mainland China, their actions would have been perfectly normal.

Parents in mainland China often allow their children to pee in public if they are having trouble finding anywhere else for them to go in time – this has likely cropped up over time as a solution to the overcrowding issue. Of course some people may find the very idea repulsive, but those parents who do so claim that their child would have had to go anyway, and they usually find a corner as out of the way as possible.

8. In North Korea It Is Both Legal And Commonplace To Smoke Weed

North Korea is known for being a strict, fascist dictatorship that rules everyone inside with an iron fist. Most areas of the country are extremely poor and hardly anyone enjoys anything that can be called a quality of life. Even those who tow the party line and get to live in the major cities don’t exactly live in the lap of luxury. However, on one particular front, the North Koreans tend to be incredibly lax. They are totally okay with the growing, and smoking of marijuana and make regular use of the drug.

Those who have managed to sneak around enough in North Korea to find out have discovered that it can even be found on the roadsides, that people grow it for personal use and that it enjoys incredible popularity. Weed can grow fairly easily in North Korea, and cigarettes and alcohol can be expensive to import in, so weed is usually the major drug of choice for most North Koreans. Tour guides discourage visitors from looking for weed, mainly because they don’t want to be known only for drugs. For those stoners who are interested in visiting North Korea and trying some of their weed, it likely isn’t worth the effort. Those who have tried it claim it is fairly poor quality as far as the drug goes.

7. In Japan It Is Considered Strange If You Don’t Slurp Your Noodles Loudly And Proudly

There are some particular cultural traditions out there that happen to be completely the opposite in another part of the world, and this is one of them. In the United States, and most Western countries, making a lot of noise while eating is generally frowned upon. Even while eating foods like noodles, we have come up with many different techniques to eat our food as noiselessly as possible. However, in Japan, eating noodles is a completely different experience.

In Japan, they believe that noodles should be eaten when they are still piping hot in order to fully enjoy them. And to eat them piping hot essentially requires the mouth movements that create that distinctive slurping sound. No one in Japan minds because it is simply considered a sound that is necessary in order to properly eat noodles – in fact, if a Japanese person does not hear you slurping, they may make the mistake of thinking that you do not like your food.

6. In The UK And Much Of Europe It Is Legal To Jaywalk As Much As You Wish

In the United States, nearly everyone has a car, and roads have become very serious business indeed. Places like New York are the exception instead of the rule, and even in places with a decent public transportation infrastructure, most people still find it more convenient to have their own method of transportation. This means we often have very congested roads full of very peeved drivers, and have thus made very rigid rules on where and when pedestrians should cross the street in order to ensure public safety. There is also a legal element involved, as it helps deal with liability in a country with a lot of lawsuits, if there are well laid out places and ways that people are supposed to safely cross the street.

However, in the United Kingdom, where they are a little less sue happy and have a lot less cars on the road, the rules are much different. Some visitors from across the pond have even found themselves arrested in the United States because they crossed the road randomly in a very busy place without using a proper crosswalk. While it is not always enforced, jaywalking is against the law in the United States, but there is no law against it at all in the United Kingdom. Instead, in most European countries, people are simply expected to cross responsibly, wherever and whenever it is safest.

 5. In New Zealand Prostitution Is Fully Legal And Regulated

In many countries in Europe sex trafficking is a problem, and some countries believe the solution to this is to clamp down hard on the legality of prostitution. Most of them are targeting those who buy the services of the prostitutes instead of the prostitute themselves – as they may be a victim of trafficking – but New Zealand has long felt that this is the wrong approach to dealing with the situation. They feel that in order to deal with sex trafficking, you need to remove the veil of secrecy from the business and regulate and keep an eye on it like any business.

To this end, in New Zealand a law was passed in 2003 that decriminalized prostitution and set up a framework that would allow for brothels to be inspected just like any other business for health and safety standards. This ensures that women in the business will go to the police when needed, and give them information, instead of living in fear. It ensures that they won’t fear their clients will dry up for fear of police prosecution, and helps avoid exploitation because they know workers’ rights laws and the officers of the law are all on their side. Some countries in Europe argue that New Zealand’s system only works well because they are so isolated, and that as countries with bigger trafficking problems, they need more restrictive laws – not less.

4. In Spain People Take A Several Hour Nap In The Middle Of The Workday

Many people may have already heard of the Spanish Siesta — the habit of Spaniards knocking off for three hours during the hottest part of the afternoon and enjoying a nice, relaxing snooze. The habit developed over time because the area was mostly used for farming, and it made a lot of sense to take a break when the sun was highest in the sky. Today, it is more of an inconvenience for the people of Spain, what with the fast paced industrialized world that most people now live in. Shops will close at 2:00 p.m. and people will often come back and reopen their shops around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and stay open until late at night.

While it may sound relaxing to knock off for three hours in the middle of the day, it is hardly good for you to segment your work day up that way, and end up constantly working late into the night – and the people of Spain are well aware of this. It is hardly realistic in the modern age to use the time for a nap, and most people actually take the time to get things done instead. Unfortunately, they still have to report for work at the same time every morning. This has led to a culture where most people in Spain stay up late, get up early, rarely nap and don’t get much sleep overall. While the siesta has given them a reputation of laziness, they are actually a hardworking, sleep deprived country that is increasingly considering removing the siesta completely and just shortening the workday to a reasonable amount of time to begin with.

3. In Japan You Can Buy Poisonous Fugu Fish

Most people have heard of the poisonous puffer fish known as Fugu, which is a delicacy in the country of Japan. In the United States and other countries around the world, if you want to taste Fugu, you will have to pay large amounts of money to eat fish that was specially prepared by Japanese chefs and imported frozen to your part of the globe. This is because Japan is the only country in the world that legally allows people to prepare the fresh Fugu for serving, and they have extremely stringent requirements in order to earn that legal right.

The fish has a poison known as tetradoxin that is extremely poisonous, causing paralysis and asphyxiation in a very short time in humans, with only a small amount required to be deadly. Certain parts of the fish are not poisonous, and are actually quite delicious, and it is these that the highly trained chefs carefully separate from the inedible or dangerous parts of the fish. It takes three years of training and only about a third of those who take the licensing exam even pass the test. These standards ensure that those who buy Fugu in a restaurant will not truly be gambling with their lives – although it is said that a truly skilled chef leaves just enough poison to make your lips tingle and remind you of the danger, without actually putting you in harm’s way.

2. In Russia It Is Perfectly Acceptable To Leave Young Children Home Alone

In the United States there are laws about how young a child can be and still be legally left home completely alone by their parents, and in today’s United States, most parents couldn’t imagine their child walking to or from school alone. If a child too young were too be left home alone in the United States, and the authorities found out, it could lead to a visit by child protective services. However, in the federation of Russia, they do not look at the issue in the same way at all. In Russia it is far more commonplace for children to leave the house on their own at a young age, either to go to school or simply go to the store, and it is not illegal to leave young children home alone.

Some parents in certain parts of Russia have lobbied in the past to make stricter laws regarding the matter, especially due to cases where children have been left home alone and got hurt, but ministers in charge of law making seem reluctant to push the issue. They feel that punishing parents for leaving young children home alone is more of a Western thing, and aren’t sure if that is the route they want to go. While it could someday change, it seems for the moment, Russians aren’t interested in worrying too much about the matter.

1. In Estonia They Vote For Public Officeholders Online

The United States like to consider themselves one of the most technology advanced nations in the world, but despite our many advances, voting online and doing many other government related actions online is still a thing of fantasy. In that particular regard, we are being beaten rather badly by a small country in Europe called Estonia. They are known for being incredibly digitally connected, possibly the most connected in the entire world. They have made training in the understanding of computers and the internet a core part of all school curriculums, and almost all important business can be done online.

 Estonians all get their own unique government ID that also comes with its own special PIN. This special ID allows Estonians to have their own online fingerprint and use that identity to do pretty much everything government related that they could possibly need to do. With this ID, Estonians do business with the library, pay taxes, vote for political candidates and many other things as well. While some Americans fear the possibility of massive voter fraud or cheating, the Estonians have not yet had any reason to believe that their system has been tampered with. They also believe their proportional voting system helps discourage those who would consider attempting to cheat in the first place.

USA No, Elsewhere Yes

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– WIF Edu-tainment

Cowboy Confidential – Old West Misconceptions

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Common Misconceptions

About Cowboys

Image result for old west

They’re the guys with the thousand yard stare. The one with six-shooters in their holsters, a broad-brim hat on their heads and enough jagged iron in their guts to break down even the toughest steak. They are the cowboys, and everyone knows they’re the coolest, calmest, most-heroic folk in America history.

 Or are they? What if we were to tell you that the cowboys you think you know are nothing like the real ones? That your mental image of cowboys could do with slightly less stoicism and gunfights… and more camels, examples of poor personal hygiene, and venereal diseases. Here are 10 little-known, crazy facts about the men who really tamed America’s wild west.

10. Most Cowboys Didn’t Carry Guns

gun

The gun-totin’ cowboy is the only cowboy most of us can picture. He’s Clint Eastwood on the way to a shootout. John Wayne blowing away bad guys. Yet take your Blu-Ray player back to the 19th century and show a genuine cowboy these films and he’d likely look at you askance. Why? Because real cowboys only rarely carried weapons.

Sure, you might need them when you were out on a cattle drive or whatever. But when you got to town? Check that baby at the door. Most towns in the wild west enacted strict gun control, just to make sure the sort of shootouts we see in movies didn’t happen on a daily basis. Even the infamous Tombstone didn’t let its cowboys walk round armed. The Gunfight at the OK Carrol only came about because Doc and Earp were trying to enforce gun laws.

The city wasn’t alone. Dodge City, Wichita, and others all stopped their visitors from packing heat. So how did cowboys solve problems without their pistols? We’re glad you asked…

9. They Almost Never Got in Fights

It’s said that “the true story of the American West is one of cooperation, not conflict.” Although 90 percent of westerns involve people getting shot, a barroom brawl, a violent posse riding into town, or (more likely) all three, the truth of the frontier was that acting tough was a good way to wind up dead. If you wanted to survive, you basically had to get on with your neighbors.

This meant no high noon showdowns, no thuggery, and no murders. Even in the roughest, toughest cattle towns, the murder rate was generally lower than that of most modern American cities. Bank robberies, too, were rare. In 2005, the University of Dayton calculated that there were more bank robberies in modern Dayton in a single year than there were across the entire Old West in a typical decade.

There were exceptions, of course. In the immediate post-Civil War period violence sporadically flared up, and Native American tribes often experienced the brutal side of the frontier. But these were the exceptions. Even notorious outlaws were less violent than their reputation suggests. Billy the Kid, for example, spent way more time rustling cattle than he ever did robbing banks or shooting people.

8. Many Were Ravaged by Venereal Diseases

old west

If your mental image of a cowboy is John Wayne acting all moral and clean-cut, you might not want to read this entry. The reality of cowboy life was dirty from beginning to end. Cowpokes often went days on end without bathing. They were smelly. Often covered in grime and stale sweat. But dirtiest of all was what was happening inside their bodies. Y’see, it’s now thought that many citizens of the frontier were crawling with venereal diseases.

Depending on where you were in the Old West, between 50 to 90 percent of the local prostitutes were likely carrying STDs. And since many cowboys liked to, ahem, avail themselves of these ladies’ talents, that meant a whole bunch of cowboys were riding around with a growing bacterial menagerie between their legs.

Although precise figures are hard to come by today, we know that new recruits to the US Army between 1876 and 1896 were frequently diseased, suggesting many of the general population were, too. Some have even suggested that crazy behavior by guys such as the Wild Bill Hickok might have been due to syphilis, making them act all eccentric.

 7. Plenty Didn’t Do Any Riding Whatsoever

cowboys

Close your eyes. Picture a cowboy. Got him? Right: What animal did he appear with?

Despite the name, almost none of you said ‘cow’. For a good reason. Cowboys in modern mythos are almost completely inseparable from their horses. The image of them riding across the high plains on a long cattle drive is one charged with romance and the spirit of adventure. For many cowboys, that was exactly what life was like.

But not for all of them. For a significant minority, their job description involved absolutely no riding whatsoever.

This was especially true at the end of the era, from about 1885 onwards. A dry summer and a terrible winter had convinced many ranchers to keep their cattle close to home. For a huge chunk of cowboys, that meant the romance of the plain was suddenly replaced with menial labor like mending fences and checking penned cows for disease. If they got to ride anything at all, it would likely be a haymow. Unsurprisingly, most hated such work.

6. Some That Did Ride Rode Camels

camel

Here’s a classic western scene. The sun stands at high noon, baking the lifeless city streets. A tumbleweed blows through the dust. A shadow appears on the horizon. It’s the cowboy. He emerges out of the heat haze, skin like cracked leather… and proceeds to ride into town on the back of his Arabian camel. Wait, what?

It’s true. In certain parts of the Old West, horses were as rare as they are in big cities today. Instead, ranchers had their cowboys ride on the backs of camels that had been imported in the 1850s, and accidentally released into the wild at the height of the Civil War.

Because of the harsh conditions on the frontier, it had been theorized camels would cope much better than horses with the heat. The US Government agreed. At great cost it imported hundreds of camels to Camp Verde, only for war to break out. When the Confederates seized the camp they released the camels. For the next few decades, enterprising ranchers occasionally caught a few, broke them in and gave them to their cowboys to work with.

 5. ‘Brokeback’ Encounters Were Surprisingly Common

brokeback

Remember 2005? That was the year Brokeback Mountain hit cinemas and Heath Ledgerproved he didn’t have to be in clown makeup to provide a magnetic performance. The movie was also controversial among some who thought it was grafting our modern notions of sexuality onto a historic setting (in this case, the 1960s).

Interestingly, this is the one criticism that can easily be refuted. According to historian and author Patricia Nell Warren, gay encounters were way more common in the Old West than we ever realized.

A lot of this is thanks to the conditions cowboys had to endure. Long stretches of time away from women, surrounded by other men, led to occasional ‘one-off’ trysts simply as a way of relieving sexual tension. Within that mix, you had a handful of genuinely gay cowboys, who’d often fled out West as a way of achieving anonymity. Because manpower was scarce, it was impractical for landowners to refuse to hire them due to their sexuality.

As social historians John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman noted in their book Intimate Matters, there are even surviving love poems written from cowboys to one another. It might have been frowned upon by the rest of society, but on the Frontier, homosexuality was relatively open.

4. Black Cowboys Were Also Surprisingly Common

black cowboys

Quick: how many westerns can you name that feature black cowboys? Most of us can probably only get Django Unchained and Blazing Saddles. As a result, you might think African-American cowpokes were a rarity on the frontier. You’d be wrong. By some estimates, as many as one in four cowboys were black.

It makes sense when you think about it. Cowpunching, as it was often called, was a dirty, difficult, badly-paid, working class job. In the post-Civil War era, those were exactly the sort of jobs newly-emancipated slaves might be expected to do. And as we mentioned above, the Old West was one area where employers couldn’t afford to turn a good pair of hands away, no matter what the color of their skin was.

That’s not to say everything on the frontier was racial harmony. Way into the 20thcentury, black cowboys were expected to do the hardest, toughest jobs of all. They were the ones breaking in wild horses, doing all the cooking on wagon drives, and holding the cattle down at branding time. On the other hand, black cowboys often had a degree of autonomy and responsibility they would have lacked in other jobs. Perhaps that’s why so many ex-slaves chose to head out West.

3. Outlaws Were Shameless Self-Promoters

billy the kid

When you hear that robbers today are live-Tweeting their own break-ins, it’s tempting to assume we’ve hit rock bottom as a culture. Such nonsense would never have happened in the stoic Old West, right? Kinda. Although photographs of Pat Garrett playing on his smartphone have yet to surface, outlaws of the cowboy era were just as narcissistic as today’s criminals. When conducting major crimes, they frequently handed out press releases.

Jesse James was notorious for this. When holding up a train, he’d pass witnesses a carefully-written note, boasting about his own exploits. He wasn’t the only one. Billy the Kid deliberately inflated his kill-count from 8 to 21, and boasted about his violent temper. In fact, the Kid almost never got involved with shooting, robbing or hold ups. The main reason the law went after him was because he kept rustling cattle.

On the other side, the good guys were equally image-conscious. Wild Bill’s nickname actually referred to his gigantic nose, similar in size to a duck’s bill. It was only by effort he made out it referred to his ‘wild’ and dangerous nature, thereby terrifying local criminals.

2. The Rest of the Country Considered Them Suspicious and Dirty

cowboys2

The cowboy is enshrined in legend as the epitome of American values. While other eras and professions have their draws, it’s impossible to think of a historic figure today more beloved by the entire nation. Which just goes to show how times change. In the early days of the Frontier, cowpunchers were regarded as ill-educated vagrants at best, and dangerous carriers of disease at worst.

Around the Deep South, cowboys were considered trespassers who used public land for their own gain. The North generally considered them illiterate (they usually were). Even along the Great Plains, there was much resentment. Cattle drives routinely trampled the crops of farmers and Native Americans, and it was the cowpunchers themselves who got the blame. Many people even feared they would spread dreaded ‘Texas Fever’ throughout the land. It’s safe to say that, during the golden age of the cowboy, most of America regarded them as a smelly nuisance.

It wasn’t really until the early 20th century that pulp novelists and early Hollywood began to transform these tough, dirty, uneducated men into folk heroes. Fast forward to today and that’s the image that remains.

 1. Modern Germans Love Them

german flag

Of all the countries in the world, which do you think has fallen for the cowboy myth the hardest (aside from the good ol’ US-of-A, that is)? Nope, it’s not Canada. Not Australia. Not even Great Britain. The country most obsessed with the cowboy today? Germany.

For some reason, Germans go nuts over cowboy-related stuff. Hundreds of clubs exist across this mountainous European nation, where people go on weekends to dress as cowboys and pretend they’re living in 19th century Texas. It’s estimated that several tens of thousands of Germans do this every single week, with many, many thousands more holding a passing interest in such exploits.

Nor is this a completely modern thing. Back in the 1930s, the Nazis venerated cowboys almost as much as they did genocide. Hitler himself was known to be a huge fan of westerns, often reading cowboy books between bouts of conquest and megalomania. For some reason, this very un-German tradition has taken deep root in a country far more ordered and rule-abiding than the Old West ever was. Which just goes to show, we guess, that you never can tell what the future has in store.


Cowboy Confidential

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– Old West Misconceptions

Trash Television – WIF Critique

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Pioneers of

Trash Television

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Tabloid television, or as critics refer to it, “Trash TV,” is made up of abrasive talk shows that set up confrontations and consciously try to be controversial and shocking. Despite being panned for their lowbrow nature and appealing to the lowest common denominator, tabloid talk shows have struck a chord with television audiences and have been popular for the past 50 years.

10. Phil Donahue

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1957, Phil Donahue went to work at a radio station in Cleveland. In 1963, he started one of the first radio talk shows, and in 1967 tried his hand at television with The Phil Donahue Show(later shortened to Donahue). His talk show format, which was targeted at “women who think,” was radical at the time because a big part of the show involved interacting with the studio audience. Audience members were able to ask questions or talk with guests and Donahue was more of a moderator than traditional talk show host. In 1972, the show went into national syndication and became hugely popular, forever changing the landscape of talk shows. For the first nine years it was on, Donahue won nine Daytime Emmys for Best Talk Show Host.

The show had rather taboo topics for the time; for example, the first guest on the show was an atheist. But it also covered other topics that were considered taboo, but in hindsight, were rather important to talk about, like women’s health. Donahue managed to stay on the air for almost 30 years, before getting cancelled in 1996. The problem was that the imitators of Donahue were willing to be more outrageous than him, and people simply weren’t watching his show anymore. Donahue went into retirement until July 2002, when MSNBC resurrected Donahue, but it was cancelled after eight months due to poor ratings.

9. Sally Jessy Raphael

After getting her degree in broadcasting from Columbia, Raphael (whose real name is Sally Lowenthal), went to work in Puerto Rico as a correspondent. After that, she came back to the United States to work in broadcasting. Over the course of three years, she was fired 18 times and she, her three children, and her husband/manager moved around a lot, sometimes sleeping in their car. In 1969, she finally landed steady work as both a morning anchor and an afternoon radio newscaster in Miami. In 1976, she moved to New York, where her popularity started to grow with audiences nationwide with her radio call-in show.

When Raphael was filling in as a substitute for a daytime talk show host in Cleveland, she caught the attention of Phil Donahue’s producer. He gave Raphael a chance with her own half hour talk show located in St. Louis. The Sally Jessy Raphael Show went on the air on October 17, 1983, and within six months, the show became nationally syndicated. She was a pioneer for women in the talk show industry, helping pave the way for the likes of Oprah (whose show debuted the following year).

Raphael, whose trademark red framed glasses became instantly recognizable, was known for taking a liberal stance on many topics like homosexuality, abortion, and premarital sex. This, of course, did not sit well with conservatives during the Reagan era. In the end, Raphael stayed on the air until 2002, when her show was cancelled.

8. Jenny Jones

In 1991, when The Jenny Jones Show went on the air, the daytime talk show circuit was pretty crowded. The host, Jenny Jones, was a comedian who became famous for her Girl’s Night Out comedy act that banned men from coming in. When the show started, Jones explained that it would be “part pajama party, part group therapy, part Oprah.” But, like many shows of the 1990s, after two years of low ratings, the show started to push the envelope. They started doing paternity tests, confronted bullies, and revealed secret crushes. While the show wasn’t anything groundbreaking, it was pioneering for an event that happened because of the show. It was a collision of “it’s only television” and the fact that the guests on tabloid shows are real people.

The controversial show was recorded on March 6, 1995, and was called “Same Sex Secret Crushes.” On the show, a gay man named Scott Amedure told an associate, Jonathan Schmitz, that he had a crush on him. Schmitz went on the show knowing he had a secret admirer, but was led to believe that it was a woman. At the time, Schmitz didn’t seem to be upset by the news, but said he wasn’t gay himself. That night, Amedure, Schmitz, and a mutual friend drank together. The friend claimed that after the taping, Amedure and Schmitz had a sexual encounter, but Schmitz denies that. Three days later, they were back home and Schmitz found a sexually suggestive letter from Amedure. After finding the letter, Schmitz bought a shotgun, went to Amedure’s house and shot him twice in the chest, killing him. In a 911 call, Schmitz blamed the show for the murder. After the murder, the episode was never aired.

At Schmitz’s trial, it was revealed he had a history of mental illness. He was given 25-50 years in 1996. Amedure’s family also sued The Jenny Jones Show and were awarded $25 million in 1999. The show was canceled in 2001, and Jones now hosts a cooking show.

7. Maury Povich

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in television journalism, Maury Povich started working as a reporter and newscaster in Washington, DC. In 1986, he became the host of a new tabloid news show, A Current Affair. Then in 1991, Povich got his first chance at hosting his own talk show, The Maury Povich Show, which ran for seven years. During that time, the climate of tabloid television was changing drastically and shows were given the choice: either follow the flow and dumb the show down, or lose in the ratings. Maury chose to devolve and the show, now just called Maury, re-launched in 1998 with thefirst show being “Who’s Your Daddy?” The use of DNA results would be one of their most common and popular shows. Other shows often feature lie detector tests, makeovers, possessive men, and wild teens.

Since changing the format, Maury has been a staple of the daytime talk show circuit and Povich is a pop culture icon, known for his famous expression when announcing the results of the paternity test. One of the most mind blowing things about Maury is that he was born in 1939, meaning that as he heads into the show’s 18th season in the fall of 2015, he will be 76-years-old.The show was renewed in 2014 for four more years.

6. Chuck Barris

Chuck Barris got his start in television in 1960 as the assistant to American Bandstand host Dick Clark. In 1965, Barris borrowed $20,000 from his stepfather and produced a pilot for his show The Dating Game. The game show involved a bachelor or bachelorette, who would ask three eligible single people behind a wall a series of question. The contestant would then pick one of them, and they would go on some elaborate date together. The show aired on December 20, 1965, on ABC and it was an instant hit. The next year, Barris made a show to pair with The Dating Gamecalled The Newlywed Game, where newly married couples were asked questions to see how much they knew about each other. It was also a big hit.

But the show that Barris struck trash gold with was The Gong Show in 1976. It was a “talent” show that was hosted by Barris himself. The premise of the show was that people performed an act for three celebrity judges. If the performance got to be unwatchable, a judge could bang a large gong to put an end to the act. One very notable controversy happened in 1978 when two 17-year-old girls came out, sat crossed legged on the floor andvery suggestively ate a popsicle. No one rang the gong, but two out of the three judges gave them low marks. Singer and actress Jaye P. Morgan gave them 10 out of 10, saying that was how she got started as well.

While The Gong Show was not a tabloid talk show like the other shows on this list, it was revolutionary in the fact that it used people that really didn’thave any talent. Many people went on the show and completely made fools of themselves in front of a national audience. This idea would of course be mined later for tabloid shows that would come later, not to mention shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent.

Barris also published an autobiography called Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he claimed that the entire time he was a television producer, he was also a CIA hitman. The book was adapted into a film in 2002, directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Barris.

5. Geraldo Rivera

Brooklyn native Geraldo Rivera got a law degree in 1969, but instead of entering the legal profession, he became a TV news reporter for New York’s WABC-TV. His breakout moment was in 1972, when he did an exposé on abuse against mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook School on Staten Island. From there, he went on to be a contributor for national news programs before joining 20/20 in 1978. He would only stay there for two years before he was fired over a disagreement about a story.

In 1987, Rivera got his own talk show, Geraldo, and it quickly gained notoriety for its controversial topics and guests. The most notable incident happened on November 3, 1988, on a show called “Teen Hatemongers.” On the heated show, a young man named John Metzger, who was the leader of the White Aryan Resistance Youth and the son of infamous white supremacist Tom Metzger, insulted Roy Innis, an African American man who was the national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Metzger said, “I’m sick and tired of Uncle Tom here, sucking up and trying to be a white man.” So Innis stood up, walked over and strangled Metzger. This led to a brawl where chairs were thrown and Geraldo’s nose was brokenduring the melee. When asked about the incident, Geraldo said that if there was ever a time for violence, that was it.

The brawl made national headlines and also gave the ratings a huge boost, because news of the brawl was made public before the episode aired. This brawl would of course lay the foundation for another, very controversial show just years later. And yes, we’ll get to that one soon enough. Geraldowas cancelled in 1998 and he is currently a contributor to Fox News.

4. Les Crane

After graduating from Tulane University and serving in the Air Force, Les Crane started off his career in broadcasting in the early 1960s as one ofthe first “shock jocks” on the radio. While tame by today’s standards, Crane would take calls from all over the West Coast of the United States and had no problem insulting and dismissing certain callers’ points of view; even going as far to hang up on some of them.

In 1963, Night Line… With Les Crane, later changed to The Les Crane Show, was first broadcast on ABC, at the 1:00 a.m. time slot. On the show, Crane was confrontational with guests that he didn’t agree with, but he also was pretty hip and cutting edge. For example, he was the first host in the United States to interview the Rolling Stones, and when Bob Dylan was 23-years-old, he appeared on the show and performed three songs. Crane also interviewed Randy Wicker, the first openly gay male on television. He also had some provocative newsmakers like Malcolm X, Governor George Wallace, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Crane’s show was popular, and in June 1965, he was moved up to 11:30 p.m. to compete against Johnny Carson. Crane, who was just 30 at the time, never really found an audience and was cancelled just a few months later. After losing to Carson, Crane tried another talk show (which also failed), and had some small acting parts. In 1980, he became the chairman of a successful computer software company called Software Toolworks, and passed away at the age of 74 in July 2008.

3. Joe Pyne

Joe Pyne served in World War II, and an injury led to part of his leg being amputated. In 1954, he got his start in television and by 1964, his television show was syndicated in 84 cities. On top of that, his hour long radio show was syndicated in 450 cities.

On his show, Pyne would chain smoke behind a news desk, not unlike Edward R. Murrow, but instead of asking questions, Pyne would actively look for confrontation and often found it. Pyne was one of the first people on TV to argue from his own viewpoint instead of being unbiased, which led to him openly insulting his guests while being cheered on by his studio audience. As for his guests, he would find the most extreme and outrageous people of the day, like the head of the Church of Satan or a man who had been married 17 times. As for why Pyne would argue with his guests, he said that he didn’t respect anyone who would agree to be on his show. We’re not sure if he was including himself in that statement, of course.

Pyne’s show ran until November 1969, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died at the age of 45 on March 23, 1970.

2. Morton Downey Jr.

In the fall of 1987, a new talk show aired on a local TV station in Secaucus, New Jersey. The show was similar to what Sally Jessy Raphael and Phil Donahue were doing, but the host was a combination of Les Crane and Joe Pyne. That man was 55-year-old Morton Downey Jr.: a chain smoking right winger who screamed, swore, and even got physical with his guests. The show was popular locally and went national a year later. The Morton Downey Jr. Show became a huge hit, mainly because Downey was loud, belligerent, and unapologetic. In fact, the show’s logo was a big mouth. Downey justified his show saying that yelling and confrontation was how a lot of Americans were raised.

When Downey had a guest on his show that he disagreed with (which was many of them), he would scream and blow cigarette smoke in their face while he was cheered on by his near rabid studio audience, which he called “The Beast.” Downey was completely open about his hostility to immigrants, gays, feminists and anyone with liberal leanings.

One notable guest that Downey had on many times was Al Sharpton, who made a name for himself on the show. An interesting story involving Downey and Sharpton was the case of Tawana Brawley. She was a black teenager, who was found wrapped in a plastic bag on the roadside in New York State in November 1987. Someone had written racial epitaphs on her body and she was covered in feces. She claimed she had been raped by a group of white officers. Her story made national headlines when Sharpton took up her cause. Downey confronted Sharpton over the validity of the story, and it turned out Brawley had set the whole thing up.

This story would prove to be important in the downfall of Downey, which started in 1989. It was hard booking guests for the show, because no one wanted to go on a show where they would be yelled at and insulted by Morton while he was being cheered on. It was great for the audience; not so much for the guests. In the summer of 1989, in a desperate attempt for ratings, Downey hosted a show at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, where he had a group of white supremacists “debate” representatives of the African American community (it was more of a screaming match than debate). A short time later, in San Francisco, Downey was found in a bathroom stall in an airport with a bruise on his face, his hair cut, and swastikas drawn on him with felt markers. Downey claimed that a group of skinheads attacked him. He even passed a polygraph, but all evidence indicated that Downey faked the attack. His show was cancelled shortly afterwards and a year later, he filed for bankruptcy.

In 1996, Downey was diagnosed with lung cancer and he immediately changed his stance on smoking, becoming a spokesperson for the American Lung Association. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 68. Downey is also the subject of the documentary Évocateur.

1. Jerry Springer

We’ve hinted at him through the whole list, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Jerry Springer is number one. The man is synonymous with trash television, and he seemingly embraces being king of rock bottom.

Born on February 13, 1944, to parents who escaped the Holocaust, Springer came to the United States when he was five-years-old. By 1968, he had his Juris Doctor, and that’s when he met Robert Kennedy, who was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. Shortly after the meeting, Springer started working on Kennedy’s campaign, but a few months after joining, Kennedy was assassinated.

Working with Kennedy encouraged Springer to get into politics. He ran for Congress in Ohio, but lost. In 1971, he won a seat on the Cincinnati city council, where he served for five terms. He even survived a sex scandal in 1974 when it was discovered that he had been with a prostitute (he paid with a personal check). In 1977, he became the youngest mayor in Cincinnati’s history. After losing the election for governor of Ohio in 1982, he was approached by a number of television stations to do a talk show.

In 1991, The Jerry Springer Show debuted and, at first, it covered political topics. Then in 1994, in order to boost ratings, a new producer from the tabloid The Weekly World News was brought in to adjust the show. Springer’s new premise was simple: bring out someone, have them reveal a secret, and then let the guests physically fight each other. The show was a hit and a cultural phenomenon for being so outrageous. In May 1998,The Jerry Springer Show became the number one show in the May sweeps, putting an end to Oprah’s 10 year run on top. The show was so popular, it even led to a horrible movie and an opera. Astonishingly, it also managed to lead to a talk show for Springer’s large, bald, and popular security guard on the show, Steve Wilkos (of course, the fact that Wilkos married Springer’s executive producer in 2000 probably helped him land his own show, too).

In 1999, the show was forced to stop showing violence. It was during this time that violence on TV was a hot button issue in the wake of the Columbine shooting. Yet, the show remained popular and is still on the air. The ban on violence seems to have been lifted and it’s as raunchy and trashy as it’s ever been. It is scheduled to be on the air until at least 2018.


Trash Television

TV-001

– WIF Critique

Get to Know Mexico – WIF Fun Facts

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Facts About Mexico

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Mexico’s international reputation isn’t exactly the greatest. Plagued by drug violence, hampered by poverty, and constantly getting bashed by US politicians, it can seem like a scary, far-away place where bad things happen. Even in the carefree days before the drug war, lots of Americans just saw it as the land of tequila, siestas and rowdy spring breakers.

 Well, we’re here to tell you that there’s a lot more to Mexico than its popular reputation suggests. A lot more. Stretching over nearly 2m km2, and with a history that goes back to the Aztecs and ancient Mayans, Mexico is a place of endless fascination. It has dozens of indigenous peoples. Its capital has more museums than any other city on Earth. It’s a place of culture, history, and great, historic achievements. Here are ten fascinating facts about North America’s only Spanish-speaking nation that you rarely hear north of the border:

10. It Used to be the 5th Biggest Nation on Earth

Modern Mexico is a big place. While it might pale beside Canada and the USA, it dwarfs the nations of Europe, and is bigger than all but one of Africa’s countries. Ranked, it would be the 13th biggest nation on Earth. But that’s just modern Mexico. The Mexico of the 19th century used to be much, much bigger. Go back to 1821, and you’d find yourself standing in one of the biggest countries in the world.

That map there is independent Mexico at its fullest extent. As you probably remember from history class, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and California were all once part of the US’s southern neighbor. But Mexican territory extended further south, too. Modern Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were all part of Mexico. Taken altogether, the Mexico that existed at independence was larger than the entire European Union. If it existed today, it would be the 5th largest nation on Earth.

This super-Mexico didn’t last long. Before the 1820s were out, it had lost most of the nations that now make up Central America. About 25 years after that, the Mexican-American War eliminated its territory in the modern US.

9. It Has the Oldest University in North America

Quick, what’s the oldest university in North America? A good number of you just yelled ‘Harvard!’ at your tablet screens. Sure, Harvard is pretty old; it was founded in 1636. But even that august institution is a baby compared to its Mexican equivalent. The National Autonomous University of Mexico, based in Mexico City, was opened in 1553.

To demonstrate just how mind-blowingly old that is, consider this: NAUM was opened when Mexico was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. It was given its charter by Emperor Charles V, who headed both the Holy Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire (dynasty was a complicated thing back then). At that time, Shakespeare was still over a decade away from being born. Isaac Newton was over a century away. Right now, you are closer in time to George Washington’s last breath than NAUM was at its founding.

Not that it was called NAUM back then. It was the Royal and Pontifical University of New Spain. Unlike Harvard, it also hasn’t been in continuous operation. The dictatorship closed it down in 1867, and it wasn’t reopened until the Revolution.

8. There are Over 60 Official Languages

Ask most people to name the official language of Mexico, and they’ll say ‘Spanish’. And they’d be right… to a degree. See, while Spanish is the most widely-spoken official language in Mexico, it’s not the only one. Ever since the government enacted the Law of Linguistic Rights, over 60 indigenous tongues have been recognized as co-official languages.

The largest of these is Nahuatal. About 1.3 million people speak the language, roughly equivalent to the entire population of New Hampshire. This is the language of the Aztec Empire, the language that once dominated the whole of Mexico. But it’s far from being the only one. Over 700,000 people speak the Yucatec Maya language, and another half a million or so speak Mixtec. Over all, nearly 7 million Mexicans speak a language other than Spanish (although most are bilingual).

Interestingly, not all co-official languages are so widely-spoken. While the next 30 most popular are all spoken by between 10,000 – 400,000 people, some like Aguacatec are spoken by less than 30.

7. They Had the Shortest Presidency in World History

William Henry Harrison is famous in the US for his horrendously short presidency. The 9thPresident contracted pneumonia on Inauguration Day and died a single month later. But even WHH’s reign lasted longer than that of Mexico’s 34th president. By one count, it lasted nearly three thousand times longer. Pedro José Domingo de la Calzada Manuel María Lascuráin Paredes was President of Mexico for anywhere from an hour to just 15 minutes. So basically he was president just long enough for someone to get through his name.

The reason for this was the crazy politics of Revolution-era Mexico. General Victoriano Huerta had just overthrown President Madero in a coup. Under Mexico’s constitution, power of a deposed president automatically passed to either his vice-president, attorney general, foreign minister or interior minister. At the time, Lascuráin was foreign minister. To make his coup look less like a coup, Huerta convinced the government to appoint Lascuráin president. The two men then cut a deal, and he moment he was sworn in Lascuráin appointed Huerta his interior minister and then resigned. Power automatically, and legally, passed onto Huerta.

To date, no other world leader has ruled for such a short time. The closest is Diosdado Cabello, who ruled Venezuela for around six hours in 2002. His reign was still over twenty times longer than Lascuráin’s.

6. In Some States, There are Three Genders

Mexico’s relationships with LGBT rights is… complicated, to say the least. While drugs gangs have been known to shoot up gay bars in some states, places like Mexico City have legalized same-sex marriage. Then there’s Oaxaca. The southern state has an approach to trans-people that is possibly unique in North America. Among the indigenous Zapotec people, they’re legally recognized as a third gender.

 Known as Muxes (Moo-Shays), the third gender are people born as men, who choose to live instead as women. Concentrated around the town of Juchitan, they’re treated as a fact of life, in the same way men and women are. They own businesses, are admired for their cookery skills, and even have a yearly ball which the mayor of Juchitan attends. For American readers, this might seem like PC gone mad. But the Muxes are far from a modern invention. They’ve been around as long as the Zapotec themselves.

Pre-Columbian societies in Mexico tended to have a third gender of men who lived as women. While most traditions died off with the coming of the Spanish, among the Zapotec it thrived. In short, the Muxes have been around since long before anyone could say what the acronym LGBT stood for.

5. It’s Home to the World’s Smallest Volcano

So, apparently Mexico has an aptitude for leading the world in the ‘unlikely smallest things’ stakes. After the record beating barely-a-presidency of Lascuráin, the country has since thrown up yet another tiny marvel. Welcome to Cuexcomate, the smallest volcano in recorded history.

Now, pay attention, kids, because just looking at images of Cuexcomate is about as exciting as watching your toenails grow. It’s the facts behind it that make it fascinating. Cuexcomate formed way, way back in 1664, an offshoot of the bigger Popocatépetl volcano. Somehow, it began to grow… and then just stopped. Like a kid who doesn’t get any bigger after their first birthday, Cuexcomate topped out at a mere 43 feet. That’s tiny. You could stack 7 averagely-tall dudes on one another’s shoulders, and the top guy would be able to peer into the crater.

So small is the long-dormant volcano that no-one thought twice about building around it. If you want to visit Cuexcomate, you have to drive out into a suburb of Puebla, work your way around the Volkswagen factory, and locate it among people’s yards.

4. Net Mexican Migration to the US is Actually Negative

Mexican immigration has become a political flashpoint in the US. While we don’t want to get into the politics of it here, it’s worth noting that things may not be quite so explosive as they seem. While plenty of Mexican still travel to the US looking for a better life, plenty more come to the US, look around, then decide to go back to Mexico. We know this because, according to PEW Research, net Mexican immigration to the US over the last decade has fallen to negative levels.

This means there are actually more Mexicans permanently leaving the US than there are arriving. Prior to the recession, it was the other way. The period 1995-2000 saw a net migration of 2.27 million Mexicans to the US. The period 2009-2014, on the other hand, saw a net migration of minus 140,000.

The factors for this are manifold. Better border policing, the Great Recession, and increasing job opportunities in Mexico have all played a part, as has the desire to reunite with family members still in Mexico.

3. Mexico Once Went to War With France Over Pastries

In the annals of warfare, there can’t be many dumber reasons for attacking another state than the fate of a pastry shop. Yet that’s exactly what transpired between France and Mexico in 1838. After a rioting mob ransacked a Mexico City bakery owned by a Frenchman named Remontel, he sued the nation of Mexico for compensation. When Mexico laughed him out, he returned to France and demanded an audience with King Louis-Philippe. Amazingly, he got it. Even more amazingly, Louis-Philippe agreed to help him.

Paris wrote to Mexico and demanded payment of 600,000 pesos, some 600 times the value of Remontel’s shop (to be fair, some of it was for unpaid Mexican debts incurred a decade earlier). When Mexico balked, the French navy invaded. They bombarded  San Juan de Ulua, captured Veracruz, and blockaded the entire country. It was only thanks to a British-brokered agreement that the war ended in early 1839. Remontel got his money. All in all, the Pastry War dragged on for four months, killed over 100 people, and injured nearly 200 more.

2. They Briefly Had the Most-Deluded Emperor in History

Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph has the distinct honor of being just Mexico’s second and final Emperor. A member of Europe’s royal Habsburg line (the guys who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Maximilian was just drifting along when, in 1863, he received a letter telling him the people of Mexico had voted to make him their king. Rather than treat it as we would an email from a Nigerian prince, Maximilian hightailed it to Mexico and declared himself Emperor. Bad move.

The letter had been issued by Napoleon III of France, who was conspiring with conservative Mexicans to place a loyal French puppet on the throne. Unknown to Maximilian, they’d chosen him as their useful idiot. When Maximilian crowned himself emperor, it triggered a civil war in Mexico that lasted three years. Apparently, Maximilian didn’t realize this, and thought he was a beloved, paternal figure who’d finally found his true calling. When the US intervened to push France’s pro-Maximilian troops out, the Emperor even refused to leave, saying the Mexican peasants needed him.

Those same peasants executed him on a hillside outside Querétaro in 1867. The deluded reign of Mexico’s last Emperor was over.

1. Their Capital City is Sinking

At 2,240 meters above sea level, Mexico City is one of the highest capital cities on Earth. Only seven other capitals (out of nearly 200) sit at a higher altitude. Pretty neat, huh? Well, wait till you get a load of this next part. If things keep going the way they are, Mexico City may not hold its coveted 8th position much longer. This is for the simple reason that the capital is sinking at an incredible rate.

Yeah, sinking. Every year, this vast megacity, home to over 21 million people, loses roughly one meter (3 feet) in altitude. In the last 60 years, the entire city has dropped 10 meters closer to sea level. That might not sound like much, so let’s put it this way. The 7thhighest capital city in the world is Sana’a in Yemen. It stands at 2,250 meters above sea level, ten meters higher than Mexico City. Over the course of six decades, the entire Mexican capital sank so low that it passed Sana’a, dropping from 7th to 8th place in the ranking of capitals by altitude.

 The reason for this is simple: water. Mexico City’s residents draw their water from beneath the capital, draining the water table and causing it to subside. As the city’s population keeps growing, it will sink faster and faster, until eventually dropping out of the top 10 highest capitals altogether. While that’s still a way off yet, (Nairobi, the current #10, is nearly 450 meters lower than Mexico City), the simple fact it could happen is mind-blowing.

Get to Know Mexico

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– WIF Fun Facts

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 71

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 71

…There is no reason to panic yet, but Miss Bouchette is here to help me put some pieces together, she being the only person who spoke with either a genuine informant… or a really good guesser…

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Informant from the 1980s by Mohammad Omran

As they dash inside Roy explains, “If I did not think this was of the utmost importance, I would not have asked you here. But I need to confirm the source of a smell in my control room, before I can act on any hunches.”

The freshly minted investigative duo and one armed {with two arms} escort enter Colony Mission Control, heading straight for Braden King, who will have the latest of the late news.

“The New Mayflower has been reprogrammed to liftoff at 11:57 to dodge a meteor… oh and and the downrange tracking is ready. That puts us on t-minus 1:49.55.” Braden has really pushed the whole ground crew in Roy’s short absence.

There is no reason to panic yet, but Miss Bouchette is here to help me put some pieces together, she being the only person who spoke with either a genuine informant… or a really good guesser. And we’re not talking about an old-fashioned-Chinese-like-cyber-attack.”

“Thank you for the professional manner in which you included us in your story. Those folks on Mars are dear to us and had you just blurted the news out, we would have lost control of things.” Braden doesn’t bother her with the wrenching details of Deke and Gus’ reaction to her report.

“We will be in the briefing room Braden, not to be disturbed.”

“If there is a hitch in the countdown, I’ll let you know, t-minus 1:42 and counting.”

He nods, checks his PDA and opens the door to the classified room by placing his palm on the encoder on its right side. It is not as neat or pristine as she would have guessed one long littered table that is used for confidential meetings, taco parties and card games. Roy enters a ten character code into the comprehensive NASA database, brightening the 75” monitor on the wall to display personnel files that may hold the clue to an inside traitor.

But it is Francine who holds the key that unlocks the dark secret. She tells him every detail she could recall from that very hectic and eventful 10 minutes, which seemed much longer than 9 1/2 hours ago.

“Are you sure he had a Pakistani accent, I know that country became part of Talibanistan ten years ago,” asks Roy who knows just about everyone who has not bought into Space Colony 1.

“He said the words ‘assalamu alaikum’, I looked that up; ‘may Allah’s peace be with you’ in the Arab culture. And he referred to Korean, Nepal and Taliban joy about the accident… and we are imperialistic infidels.”

The Nepal reference strikes a nerve.

“I wasn’t aware that Nepal had an axe to grind about the Mars project. But there is somebody in this complex from Nepal, that strange little tech named Gherkin who replaced Phil Jansky. I wonder if there is a connection.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 71


 

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Contents TRT

The $15 Minimum Wage – WIF Speculation

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What Would Happen if

Minimum Wage Went to

$15 Everywhere

Be Careful What You Wish For

Well, we decided to look into what might happen if the minimum wage was raised to $15 across the world. The results were… intriguing, to say the least. While realistically, the idea of a global $15 minimum wage is as likely as flying pigs farting unicorn rainbows, it’s still interesting to imagine what the outcome would be. The answer is: insanity.

10. The Rise of the Machines

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Forget Terminator. Forget The Matrix. The real cause of the machine revolution lies not in military programs, but in the battle for a higher minimum wage. According to The Economist, there’s only one likely outcome to a yuge minimum wage hike: mass automation.

 Right now, machines and computers are capable of doing a heck of a lot that low-skilled humans can, such as driving trucks and manning checkouts. The reason that they don’t isn’t due to some fancy-pants robot-workers’ union, but because they simply cost too much. It’s way more cost-effective for an employer to keep you working at the checkout for $7.50 an hour than it is for them to buy a machine to do your job, so they don’t.

But when that $15 wage hike comes in, suddenly the robots are looking a lot more attractive. The outcome? Jobs will disappear faster than you can say “Skynet.”

Nationally, millions would be out of work. Globally, billions. That would mean completely restructuring our economies to deal with permanent mass-unemployment; a shift which wouldn’t come easy.

9. The Poor Would Still be Poor

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It’s important to note that robots still suck at certain jobs. Cleaning, for example, is better being done by humans. Mass-automation wouldn’t really affect such sectors. So that means a minimum wage hike would still lift some out of poverty, right?

 Sure. But far, far fewer than you’d think.

Most supporters of the $15 minimum want to reduce poverty. But the minimum wage rarely affects those who are truly poor. Only 12.7% of US minimum wage workers come from poor households. Just under half are secondary-income earners from households with earnings three times higher than the poverty line. In other words, they’re teenagers starting their first job, or parents who took time out for raising kids and now want a bit of part-time work to fill the empty hours.

The result would be a boost to these people’s finances, for sure. But the vast majority of American poor either already make $15 but don’t get enough hours, or simply don’t work at all. A mass-applied $15 minimum wouldn’t affect this cohort one bit.

8. Mass Migration

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In the 1980s, well-meaning legislators accidentally screwed-over Puerto Rico. As a US Territory, the island became subject to the US Minimum Wage. Hooray for Puerto Rico, huh? Not so fast. The knock-on effect of this wage increase was to drive a huge chunk of the island’s residents to migrate to mainland USA.

 This sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes perfect sense. Puerto Rico is poor. There was simply no way employers could afford the mainland minimum wage. With automation in 1983 being a pipedream, they simply laid off workers and sent unemployment skyrocketing.

Something similar would happen with a global minimum wage. Rich cities and countries that could afford the $15 hit would suddenly become Meccas for those from poor areas which couldn’t afford it. The jobless poor would flood in from territories and rural areas that couldn’t pay, leading to perhaps the greatest wave of human migration in history. And as we all know, mass-migration doesn’t always go completely smoothly…

7. Rampant Xenophobia

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During the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of Americans were forced to leave Dustbowl States to look for work. Oklahoma alone lost nearly half a million of its population to more-prosperous states like California. How did the residents of richer states react to this sudden influx of poor, depressed and unemployed people? They freakin’ hated their guts.

Okies were the subject of extreme discrimination from locals who thought they were stealing jobs, bringing crime, undercutting wages and just generally stinking up Sunny California with their Okie ways. Never mind that most of the Okies were family folk who just wanted to do some honest work and contribute to California, they were still hugely unpopular.

It’s not hard to imagine something similar happening if a $15 minimum wage drove people from poor, rural areas into rich, urban ones. On a national scale, it would be uncomfortable. If it was global, then throw in racism and culture clash and you’re potentially sitting on a powder keg.

6. Poor Countries Would Become Poorer

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Everyone reading this can probably agree that paying Bangladeshi workers $0.50 per hour to toil in a sweatshop is morally ugly. Unfortunately, it’s also the way the world works.

Poor countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Haiti are chronically in need of investment. To ensure companies want to set up shop there, they have to offer something the West can’t. Sadly, that ‘something’ is extremely low-wage employees. Create a world where everyone from a trucker in Arizona to a garment-maker in Dhaka is worth $15 an hour, and you destroy the only competitive advantage these countries have.

For a company in the US, it suddenly makes no sense at all for them to set up a factory in Asia when it costs the same as setting one up in America. So they won’t. Unless poor countries sacrifice something else in return for investment, that investment will simply dry up. Bangladeshi jobs will vanish, money will disappear, and poor countries will get even poorer.

5. The End of Outsourcing

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On the other hand, this would mean the end of outsourcing; a practice generally considered to be so mercenary it probably counts as one of the 7 Deadly Sins. While this is extremely bad news for those living in poorer countries, it could be pretty good for those living elsewhere.

Right now, a lot of jobs that used to be done by Americans are being done abroad for a fraction of the cost. Take away those cost incentives to move abroad, and those jobs will probably stay in America (provided the government did other stuff like cut corporation tax). For those industries that can’t be automated, it could result in a glut of work available at home. It would be the same thing both Trump and Bernie Sanders like to talk about: American jobs for American workers.

The downside is there are other ways countries could attract multinationals even with a global $15 minimum wage, such as low corporation tax, an unregulated market or removing certain labor restrictions. In practice, then, a global minimum wage of $15 might not end outsourcing. Instead it might trigger a race to the bottom in an entirely different area.

4. A Gigantic Small Business Crash

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There’s a reason campaigns like Fight for $15 stir so much moral fury. The idea that a multi-billion-dollar empire like Walmart can get away with paying its employees $7.20 per hour makes any reasonable person’s blood boil.

The reality is that plenty of minimum wage employees aren’t slaving away in Walmart. They’re working for small businesses. And asking those small businesses to double their employees’ wages is like asking them to start handing out blocks of gold to all of their customers.

 Around a third of minimum wage employees are working at businesses that employfewer than 50 people. Force a $15 minimum on these places, and they’re gonna go under or lay off staff or (more likely) both. That means a collapse of small businesses across the board, something that’s not exactly thrilling for stuff like innovation, the economy, or just having a few more choices of coffee place beyond Starbucks.

Most of us value small businesses and independent Mom-and-Pop stores. We also value the idea of workers being paid a good minimum wage. Sadly, these two things can often be mutually-exclusive.

3. The Rise of Freelance Contract Work

freelance

One of the big flaws with the minimum wage is that there are quite a few ways around it. Most of you reading this probably work in an industry that utilizes one or more of them. For example, your place might take on unpaid interns over summer. Or maybe those looking for a promotion can take part in a scheme that temporarily increases their responsibilities while not affecting their pay scale.

 In many industries, the ‘get around’ comes from freelance contract work. This is especially prevalent in the world of online writing which – surprise! – we happen to know a great deal about. The basic set-up is that the website will pay you per article, not per hour worked. If you’re a dashingly-handsome internet-writer with chiselled abs this isn’t a problem, as you’re capable of writing a $15 article in way under an hour. But for someone without those skills or looks… well, then you got a problem.

In a world where the $15 is everywhere, plenty of companies are gonna avail themselves of freelance contracts. This means people who aren’t suited to them languishing away, taking hours and hours and hours to complete a task which will net them only paltry sums. So how about we get rid of these contracts altogether? Well, then you’re stuck with plenty of businesses going bust… and all those same workers now making nothing at all.

2. An Explosion of Spending

shopping

By now, we suspect some Fight for $15 fans are more than a little upset with the direction this article has taken. Hey, thems the breaks. We just go where our research leads us. And for this entry, it has led us to a potential light at the end of this dark and mold-infested tunnel. There’s a chance a $15 minimum could spark an economy-reviving spending spree.

This comes courtesy of Bloomberg, an outfit not exactly known for its leftish politics. The argument is pretty straightforward. A capitalist economy relies upon workers using their wages to buy stuff they want but don’t really need. This is the engine that drives growth. Whisk away that extra part of their paycheck marked ‘conspicuous consumption’ and the economy falters. Conversely, inflate that part wildly with a $15 minimum wage, and sit back and watch as the economy goes into overdrive.

The theory is that people who earn the extra money would spend and spend like lunatics. Goods would be flying off shelves. Vacations would be booked en masse. Services would be purchased, money would go flying through the economy, and everyone would wind up being a winner. It could be a boom to rival the 2008 bust, the sort of massive boost we haven’t seen in ages.

 1. Everything or Nothing

15

At the end of all that, we have a confession to make. We don’t know what would happen if the minimum wage went to $15 everywhere. That’s not us being uninformed: literally no-one knows.

While there have been plenty of studies done on minimum wage hikes, there has never been one done on a hike as enormous as the $15 one would be. It simply hasn’t happened before over a large enough area, or in enough places, for anyone to draw any firm conclusions. As a result, it’s easy to find respected economics writers claiming that a national $15 minimum would be the best thing ever; just as it’s easy to find respected writers claiming that such a hike would trigger the apocalypse.

What we’ve done above is drawn on what a plurality of economists seem to think, and what theories seem to suggest, to try and draw conclusions. The reality is, no-one knows for sure what would happen applying the $15 minimum on a national scale, let alone an international one. The only certainty is that the effect would be enormous, and possibly world-changing. Whether for the better or the worse is something we’d simply have to wait to find out.


The $15 Minimum Wage

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– WIF Speculation

Here Today Gone Tomorrow – WIF Into the Future

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Things You’ve Used Today

That Won’t Be Around

in 20 Years

In the new millennium, progress and change is happening more rapidly than ever before. For example, look at how different life in 1996 was compared to 2016. Cell phones weren’t yet commonplace, the internet was still making headway in becoming more mainstream, and so on. So it makes you stop and wonder: just how different will things be in another 20 years?

10. Plug-in Phone Chargers

A problem with all of the new tech that will replace everything is that it will require energy. As of right now, if you go out without charging your phone, it’s a pretty big annoyance. However, if you need your phone because it has all of your information (credit cards, car insurance, and so forth) stored, it’s important that it is charged all the time. Of course, that means taking time out to plug your phone, and other devices, into an outlet so it can charge for a few hours.

However, looking to solve that problem, a few companies are developing technology that will allow people to charge their devices without even taking them out of their pockets. Specifically, using radio waves. How they all essentially work is using special antennas that focus cellular and Wi-Fi signals into a pocket of low-powered energy that is on the back of the phone. Then, a receiver converts the radio power into DC energy, which charges the battery.

This technology isn’t far off, either. By late 2016, a company called Energous is planning to release a wireless charger that, from a distance of up to five feet, would charge a phone similar to a wall charger. At 10 feet, it would be similar to charging using a USB, and at 15 feet, it would be like a trickle of a charge.

By 2036, this technology will be stronger and charging units could be dispersed publicly, meaning your phone and other devices could always be charging.

9. Physical Wallets

wallet

Wallets may become obsolete simply because, sooner or later, there will be nothing to put into them. Essentially, everything in the wallet is going to get outsourced. Physical currency may still be used, but things like credit cards and debit cards will be changed to apps. This transition is already happening with apps like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Forms of identification will also become digital, but one of the main pieces of ID may be on its way out in about 20 years as well. It is predicted that by 2025, self-driving autonomous cars will be introduced (Google, you’re probably aware, is already hard at work on this project), and that by 2040, they will be commonplace. This could eliminate the need for a driver’s license altogether.

Finally, in your wallet there are a lot of things that you keep safe, like your money and your pieces of identification. If you lose your wallet, it could lead to a lot of problems, like identity theft. However, phones are encrypted and even the makers of the phone and the FBI have problems hacking them. Plus, unlike your wallet, they can be traced with GPS if lost or stolen.

So without a need for debit and credit cards or a physical driver’s license, wallets may just be relegated to objects that 2036’s form of hipsters use to be ironic.

8. Pennies

Due to inflation, the humble penny has really lost its relevancy over the past few decades. Many people wouldn’t stop to pick one up, and if they do it may just be for good luck because it certainly won’t improve your own personal wealth. Most of the time pennies are used solely to get rid of them, or to keep yourself from getting any more by having exact change. Finally, in countries like the United States, not only has the value of the penny gone down, but copper prices have also gone up. In 2014, it cost 1.7 cents to make one penny.

The solution, which countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have already done, is simply to eliminate the penny in cash transactions. Instead, it is just rounded to the nearest five cent increment. Electronic transactions, like paying with debit and credit cards, will still count cents.

With inflation and copper prices expected to go up, by 2036, the use of the copper pennies will be eliminated in many countries.

7. Passwords

In theory, specialized passwords are a good idea for security. However, on average, most people have between five and 10 passwords, all of which should be complex for greater security and half of which they forget and constantly have to reset anyway. Not that we speak from experience, or anything. Ahem. Moving on, the problem is that our brains have a hard time remembering complex sequences, like those ideally used for passwords (which IT specialists tell you should include combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers in random order).

In 20 years, passwords and pin codes for internet and banking accounts will be old news. Technology is currently being developed that would use different biometrics that would be hard to copy. This includes iris scans, voice recognition, fingerprint scans (which Apple, for example, already lets you use to access iPhones, and which can be used in place of passwords for several apps), facial recognition, and even a scanner that recognizes veins in people’s hands.

Besides the elimination of passwords, there will be other, very futuristic, Big Brother-ish sci-fi security on devices, like phones, that measure behavior. A company called BioCatch has a technology that creates behavioral profiles that analyze over 500 parameters, such as how someone holds their device, how they scan a website, and what sites they visit. If someone who is not you is using the device, the device can be shut down, or have the usage limited.

6. Physical Media

broken cds

For physical media, we thought we would break it down into four subcategories: music, movies, books, and video games.

For years, music and movies have moved away from physical media and have become digital downloads or are available through streaming services. We’ve seen this through the fall of places like Tower Records and Blockbuster Video, while iTunes and Netflix have skyrocketed in popularity. So it should not be a surprise that in 20 years, things like physical CDs and even DVDs and Blu-Rays will mostly be relegated to things people buy simply because they want a physical copy. The reason this is happening just comes down to cost and convenience. For example, music is recorded and mixed on a computer, then burned onto a CD, then shipped out to the store or Amazon warehouse, and so on. With digital, there are no materials or shipping costs – not to mention the immediacy of it, or the fact that a downloaded file can’t be damaged or scratched, unlike a disc.

Where this gets a bit more complicated is video games. Obviously with games, downloading and streaming with companies like Steam are becoming more and more common. However, where the industry is heading is still highly debated with two schools of thought. Will people still buy individual, physical games, or is Steam (or potentially a Netflix-style game site) the wave of the future? Well, the problem is games are way more complex than movies and television shows. This has led to speculation that game technology will always be too complex and too big to be entirely streamed, though digital downloads remain an increasingly popular option.

The final physical media is also the oldest – printed books. Of course, if you talk to a book lover, they will think it is crazy to even suggest that print books would be obsolete in 20 years. After all, other forms of physical media don’t necessarily affect the experience. Yes, the quality changes if you are listening to vinyl as opposed to a CD. However, it is impossible to tell the difference between CD and high quality digital downloads. However, there is a noticeable difference between reading a printed book and an e-reader. This may be why books are more resistant to death over the next 20 years. In fact, in 2015, digital book sales started to drop and the sale of printed books increased. So the future of books, both electronic and printed, is uncertain.

5. Needle Injections

Getting a needle injection is a bit of a paradox, because you stick a piece of metal into your body (which seems scary, and always feels like a bad idea), yet the injection may be lifesaving. Well, good news for people who don’t like getting pricked by needles: in 20 years, we’ll all probably be prickless. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Well, you know what we mean.

Two projects at MIT are looking at two very different ways to give people injections without puncturing the skin. The first uses jet injection technology, meaning it can shoot a substance at ultra-high speeds. The device is able to inject medicine by traveling almost as fast as the speed of sound, which allows the drug to flow through an opening in the skin that is about the size of a mosquito proboscis.

A second technology may sound rather horrible, but it actually could be a much safer way to administer drugs: capsule-coated needles that would deliver drugs directly to the stomach lining. The reason that some drugs have to be given to patients intravenously is because if a drug is made from large protein molecules, the digestive system breaks them down as if they are food. This new method of swallowing the injection would allow doctors to dose patients with large antibodies much more efficiently. This would include drugs used in cancer treatment and vaccines.

4. Washers and Dryers

Doing the laundry really isn’t that difficult of a chore, especially when you compare it to how things would have been before electric washer and dryers. Yet, we know that deep down, no one really likes to do the laundry. It’s time consuming, and we’re lazy.

The good news is that 20 years from now, we may not need to. Two separate groups of researchers, one in China in 2012, and another group in Australia in 2016, developed a coating from nanoparticles that reacts similar to bleach when it is exposed to the sun. For the Chinese group, it took 18 hours to coat the clothing, and it couldn’t be traditionally washed afterwards. However, the Australian group was able to coat the clothing in 40 minutes and the nanoparticles stayed on the clothes even when they were traditionally washed 15 times.

Once clothes can be cleaned by just putting it out in the sun, well, then it’s just a matter of doing exactly that and ditching your washer and dryer or trips to the laundromat. After all, being able to use the sun to wash your clothes should be easy for everyone who doesn’t live in England or Seattle.

3. Car Mirrors

car mirror

More and more cars are taking advantage of cameras. In fact, starting in May 2018, all new cars that are manufactured are required to have a rearview camera. Besides just replacing the rearview mirror, cameras are also expected to replace side view mirrors as well. Cameras are simply becoming cheaper, and there is more of an advantage because cameras have a better range of view, such as seeing into blind spots. Finally, as cars move toward being self-driving, the amount of cameras will increase, and since a computer wouldn’t use mirrors to look around the car, they simply won’t be practical.

Beyond cars, there are even some who believe that mirrors will start to disappear from everyday life (which is really going to cause people to get more creative with how they take selfies). Instead, they will be replaced with high resolution monitors that will allow you to do close ups, get biometric readings, and see yourself dressed in different outfits. This would also have decorative features because that big area in rooms that are taken up by mirrors could be anything on the screen.

2. Metal Keys

People have been locking up their possessions since the days of Ancient Egypt, but over the next 20 years or so, keys are going to be given a radical update. Mainly, they will be electronic and on your phone or other portable, electronic device. Volvo, as shown in the video above, is at the forefront of trying to get this movement away from physical keys started. There’s a good chance you’ve also been in a car that’s got a push button starter, which only requires what is basically a keyless fob to be in the car for it to start.

New digital keys will do more than just lock and unlock the door for users. Doors could also be opened with blue tooth. Virtual keys could also be sent to guests with timers, and you can control who has access to open the locks, and at what times.

Using your phone as a key is already being used in Starwood Hotels and Range Rover is using the technology in their cars. Currently, the problem is that digital copies of locks may be easier to pick, and with so many important, personal items on your phone (credit cards, ID, the key to your car…you know, basically half of your life), losing or damaging your phone could be devastating.

1. Checkout Lines

check out

Online shopping certainly has its advantages compared to retail shopping. However, sometimes you just want to look at, touch, and try out a product before buying it. Also, sometimes there are benefits of browsing the store, whereas visiting a website you may only visit certain sections. But, in order to compete, stores will have to look to be innovative, and one of the best ways to do that would be to eliminate lines. After all, who likes to line up to hand over their money?

Well, frictionless commerce is already starting to emerge. The most notable company that takes advantage of this is Uber. There is no money exchanged, it’s all just on the app. Well, this will happen when you do things like grocery shop. Any time you put something in your bag, it automatically tallies up and charges you as you walk out of the store.


Here Today Gone Tomorrow

WIF Future-001

– WIF Into the Future