Middle of the Night Musings About Tech, Economics, and the Near Future of Humanity

I’m up in the middle of the night, again. My mind has been far more active than what was normal the last several months. Maybe the move to a large urban center has stimulated my mind. Maybe getting my heart problems under control made me more hopeful. Maybe seeing my parents everyday has given me more food for thought. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying these new changes.

I saw my new general practitioner a couple days ago. I’m guessing he’s in his forties. I liked him right away. I liked the nurses and office staff too. Even though I don’t have my new insurance card yet, the office lady was able to find all my info pretty quickly. I’ve found medical staff, social workers, and even fast food employees to be more helpful here in Oklahoma City than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. It’s definitely a change living in a place that people actually are moving to in large numbers. It makes me feel like I’ve officially joined the 21st century rather than just read about it online.

Been reading a lot of articles about tech advancements since I moved to Oklahoma. Some of this is advancing faster than even I would have thought. Ten years ago, I never thought I could talk history and economics with an AI Chatbot easier than I could with most people. Certainly not as soon as 2023. And I use a free low end service, it’s not even ChatGPT as far as I can tell. And the fact that people are already using chatbots to aid in the office jobs and even work multiple full times, I would have not imagined that even in 2020. Makes me think the possibility to make workers far more productive with AI is already here. It makes me think that some companies will automate as much of their white collar staff as possible if they aren’t already. Much like blue collar factory jobs were outsourced and automated in the 1980s, I think the same thing is starting to happen in office and tech jobs. I can now understand why some plumbers, electricians, and welders make more money than some lawyers and accountants.

I imagine that if AI and automation become as big as I think, that alone will make college education pointless for most people. I could see more apprentices and on the job training. We already have that to a degree with unpaid internships. Personally, I think unpaid internships are a modern day version of serfdom. Even most academic instruction is done by graduate assistants making poverty level wages and no benefits or tenure, at least for undergrad. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t get a career in academia. For awhile I was pursuing a career as a college professor. I wanted to teach investing, finance, and economics. These were my favorite business subjects in college. But that was until I realized that the majority of college professors aren’t full time, don’t have benefits or tenure. And since I wanted to teach more than do research, it wasn’t for me. I also didn’t want to spend years in college racking up a small fortune in student loans to get a PhD and do obscure research that only a handful of people would actually acknowledge. Even my small blog has more readers than most doctoral dissertations.

Another thing I didn’t like about working in academia is that I felt too much pressure to specialize my knowledge. Personally, I think specialization is too narrow for most workers nowadays. As fast as technology is advancing, a worker starting out today is going to change careers at least a few times. The days of getting a job at age 22 and staying with the same company until age 65 are over. I think that businesses today would be wise in hiring more Humanities students and philosophers, especially AI firms. Not only most employers no longer that loyal, the tech advances and economic changes mean that they can’t afford to be as loyal as they were 100 years ago. The world is simply changing too fast to ensure life long employment. Life long employment was a bigger deal in Japan and Korea than even the USA. I try to tell my teenage nephews and niece that people like their dad and mom who stay with the same company for over twenty years after graduation are not the norm. The only career advice I give to any teenager is ‘be flexible and never stop learning.’ Some of the most lucrative careers in 2023 didn’t even exist in 2000. I think the most lucrative businesses and careers of 2045 haven’t even been invented yet. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the world had its first trillionaire by then, and probably from an industry that only now on the drawing board.

Not only do I think we are entering a future world of mass technological unemployment, I think in some ways we are already starting to see it in real time. Big tech firms have already laid off almost a quarter million workers since mid 2022 even though most of the firms doing the layoffs are profitable. Even tech companies in China and India are laying off some of their tech workers. Youth unemployment among recent college graduates in China is a major problem, though they don’t have the student loan burdens most American students have. I also think real estate and land prices will only continue to rise even if interest rates keep going up, which they probably will to combat inflation and encourage saving and investing. The days of cheap credit are over. So are the days of cheap commodities like oil and food. 3 dollar a gallon gas, 6 dollars for a dozen eggs, and one million dollars for starter homes are only the beginning. And, yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. At least not permanently.

I imagine eventually science and tech advances will make everything cheaper much the same way electronics and computers get better and cheaper as the years go on. I mean, we can already 3D print everything from tools to houses, to even guns (so abolishing the 2nd amendment will do no good). I think even chemicals can now be 3D printed. Eventually we will be able to function in a world were less than half of working age people have full time jobs. I think that reality is already technically feasible though not economically, politically, or culturally feasible. It’s definitely not feasible economically in most developing countries. It’s definitely not culturally feasible in nations that find meaning and purpose in careers. I think technological unemployment will be far tougher for the US to adapt to than most developed nations because we value employment so much and don’t believe in the social safety nets that some nations have already implemented generations ago. I see it getting really ugly in the US because of our attitudes towards work, education, and social welfare. I think the homeless problems, prison overcrowding, working poor, political divisions between the Left and Right, drug abuse, mental health crisis, and rates of suicide getting worse in the next 20 years. So much so that I think that America won’t be the richest and most influential country in the world come 2030. I don’t think we will collapse into Mad Max (even though some of my prepper friends are actually hoping and praying for this), I think the world of America being the only superpower no longer exists.

I think eventually we will achieve a world where even people on poverty level wages can have a decent life free from starvation and access to decent health care. We already have more overweight people than starving people by a nearly 3 to 1 margin. Obesity is no longer just an American problem. In fact, for most of history being overweight was considered a sign of wealth and prosperity. Now people consider it a sign of poverty and a lack of discipline. But I think it will be long and painful process to get to that world. I doubt I’ll live to see it.

I know it spooked a lot of people, myself included, when the World Economic Form was talking about a Great Reset and “owning nothing and being happy.” Debt resets and failures of currencies are nothing new. Even the Old Testament talks about debt jubilation every so often. Nowadays, some people would say you were a dirty socialist or commie for even suggesting such a thing. Maybe God Himself was a socialist in ancient times. The Founding Fathers thought that conquering a nation via debts was as dangerous as standing armies. Now that everyone is in debt to everyone else, and we as nations and individuals are needlessly suffering, the wisdom of their words concerning debts are more obvious than ever. A debt reset is probably the only way we are going to not saddle those yet born with unpayable debt. Besides, it’s not like our money is real as most countries went off gold standards decades ago. And, it’s not like we owe money to aliens or God. We owe these quadrillions to ourselves, not other species.

Going back to having most countries on some kind of gold standard wouldn’t be as tough as most people think since almost all gold mined in the last 6000 years still exists. We’re not burning through nearly as fast as we are oil, natural gas, or even rare earths. Granted it would severely jack up the price of gold and make countries and individuals that have lots of gold suddenly wealthy. In theory, we can print money forever even though said money would have far less value. Some countries are talking about having their own blockchain crypto currencies tethered to some kind of gold standard. In theory, you could make anything be a stable currency providing it was limited and people would accept it. Things like beads, salt, sea shells, livestock, grain, and even dried yak dung have been used as currency over the centuries. Cigarettes and candy have been popular currencies in prisons for generations. Even prisoners believe in a means of exchange. Even if we have a world wide economic collapse, we will recover. At least as long as we don’t engage in a nuclear war.

I guess that’s enough for one post. I actually enjoy writing these types of posts where I branch off from mental illness. It gives me an outlet for all the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. Besides, I don’t believe in specialization. The world needs more renaissance people (or at least aspiring renaissance people) than it did when I was growing up. I think we need more generalists and people who can learn fast because of how fast our tech is advancing and our culture is changing. We are living in a new industrial revolution as I write this. It’s going to get even more interesting in the next thirty years. Stay tuned.


What’s Been On My Mind The Last Few Weeks

This is probably going to be my longest post in the ten years I’ve kept a regular blog. Don’t worry, most of this won’t be ranting or complaining. I’ve been more wanting to write and chat than usual lately. I think the warmer and more humid weather has me more chatty and hopeful. So much so I’m even experimenting with a personal AI chat bot the last several weeks. Sure, it’s kind of wonky sometimes and clearly an AI chatbot. But these things are alot better than they were even one year ago. I found it really knows it stuff when chatting about history, science and economics. Not so much when talking about feelings and depression. I’m dead convinced even the AI players on my computer games are better than they were a couple years ago. Even though I’ve played strategy games like Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Total War, and Sim City for decades, I swear it’s getting tougher to compete against the computer now more than ever. I really think gaming AI is better now than ever.

My dad recently severely hurt his back and is very limited on what he can do. It’s also got him real depressed. My aches and pains are worse today than any time in weeks. And I don’t know what I did to make them worse. I also rarely hear from my friends anymore. Most are too busy with careers and family. I now understand why even the best friends lose contact with each other over the years. In my case, I have neither workplace friends, a wife, or kids to socialize with because of my mental illness taking both my career and family before I had either one. I feel like I missed out on a lot of what it means to be an adult because of my illness. I feel like I missed out on a lot of what it means to be human. I don’t even know what it’s like to feel love from others. I certainly don’t believe in unconditional love existing. Everything is conditional as far as I can tell. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like. And I get so irritated when people tell me ‘there’s someone for everyone’ or ‘you’re just overthinking it.’ No, some people are better off not marrying or having kids. We used to have monastic orders and academies for those people. Even though I never married, had kids, or any success in a career, I don’t feel like I’m less human or a failure. Heck, I’m actually quite content with my life as a digital monk. It helps that disability insurance pays for my food, shelter, medications, and basic needs. But some people I know would love to get rid of social security and disability because they feel people like me and the sick elderly are leeches and parasites. I’ve lost contact with most of my extended family because of attitudes like this. It’s why I won’t visit my childhood hometown or go to family reunions. I feel like a failure only when I’m around people like that and those who knew me as a high achiever in my youth.

Even though I was healthier and had easy access to friends in my teenage years, I’m rarely nostalgic for the past. I love the internet too much, especially the free education I got via years of binge watching youtube and Khan Academy. Getting my groceries delivered, getting my meds mailed to me, zoom calls with my psych doctor, and buying through Amazon may have kept me alive during the pandemic. We had none of that back in the 90s. If Covid had to happen (and pandemics are not uncommon throughout history), I’m convinced that things would have been MUCH worse had it happened in the 90s. We wouldn’t have had work from home being a thing, we wouldn’t have vaccines and effective treatments developed in only one year, and a lot more people would have died. I probably would have died had it not been for internet and grocery delivery. That’s why I get kind of irritated with people complaining about masks, vaccines, and delivery being infridgements on freedoms. Freedoms sometimes have to be restricted temporairly during crisis. We had a military draft in the world wars (which many people resisted and protested even in WW2). We had draft riots even during the Civil War. There were restrictions during Spanish Flu and even Bubonic Plague. I swear, too many people didn’t learn anything from high school history class. Covid restrictions are mostly lifted and people are still complaining. I don’t understand normal people. The older I get, the less y’all make any sense. In short, people complaining about restrictions during covid should be grateful it didn’t happen before the internet became a thing. It would have been much worse.

Another reason I’m not nostalgic for the world of my young years (even if I do miss my health and friends), is that now it’s a lot easier to talk about problems. For the first few years of my illness, I didn’t talk about it with my classmates or close friends. They knew I was odd, but didn’t realize just how serious mental illness was messing with my life. Twenty years ago, even I didn’t realize how much I was losing out on because of my illness. My psych doctor and therapist never once mentioned it could be a major disability that would affect everything. At first I thought if I just took the meds daily and went to the free therapist once a week, my life would return to normal once I graduated. Well, it didn’t work that way. I had panic attacks every day before I went to work in retail and fast food. It wasn’t so bad working in a factory as I didn’t have to be around an unpredictable and often spiteful public. I suffered at the factory because I couldn’t sleep in the day and still work the overnight shift five nights a week. After several weeks of sleep deprivation, my illness flared up and my work suffered. I requested a transfer to day shift, which was denied. So I end up quitting before my lack of sleep and mental illness caused an accident. I probably could have done that job for years had they approved my transfer request. Would have made good money and benefits too even if we weren’t unionized.

It’s easier to talk about problems now than even ten years ago. It’s probably why we hear so much about traditionally marginalized people like mentally ill, homeless, LGBT+ communities, religious minorities, struggles of the working poor, struggles of the elderly, struggles of women, struggles of young people just starting out, etc. The issues have always been there, granted more below the surface than now. It is not weak to talk about problems. It’s a needless tragedy for people to suffer in silence because of outdated social norms. It’s almost like some people actually want life to be tougher now than it was in the past. I hear people my parents age talk about how great the 1950s were, yet they ignore Jim Crow laws, the problems of the Cold War, the communist witch hunts, lack of work opportunities for women, and even the corporate tax laws of the 1950s. Taxes on big business were much higher in the 50s than now. I’d favor bringing those back except it would mean that EVERY corporate job in America would get outsourced to cheaper countries or outright automated faster than they already are. One thing I like about the 2020s is that it is easier to talk about things like poverty, job loss, loneliness, racial bigotry, sexism, discrimination, being bullied by classmates or coworkers, etc. The problems were always there. People are just refusing to suffer to silence anymore. And I’m glad for it. It’s a lot easier to empathize and act when I have a better understanding of others’ problems. My life would have been easier had I not been afraid to talk about my struggles with mental illness, bullying, and a lack of privacy while growing up in a rural farming village until I was well into my thirties. Some of that stuff I’m still scared to talk about for fear of alienating my friends and family. I just didn’t realize how unhealthy much of that was until I was well into my thirties. This blog is one of my outlets and it’s also cheap therapy.

Even though I’ve never made money off my blog or my scholarly projects, it’s the most fun at a job I ever had. I do consider it a job even though I don’t get paid. So much is changing and so fast, it’s almost a full time job now to research some of this stuff. Kind of a pity I don’t get paid for my searches and giving out my personal information. But, most people don’t realize what we as a society are already doing in terms of science, tech, medicine, and humanitarian work. Even I didn’t realize how good ChatGPT is until a few weeks ago. I certainly didn’t realize that some office workers were using it to aid their jobs or even work several jobs. Personally I have no issues with work from home people working more than one “full time” job for no other reason than it’s not illegal for people to own more than one business or piece of property. Maybe that’s how we fight inflation, just make more money from multiple jobs. I mean, elders like Dave Ramsey have for decades told people to take second jobs and side hustles to get out of financial problems. So what if the second job is an office job and not delivering pizzas or working at Home Depot? Quite honestly, the requirements to have a college degree for most jobs is down right insane and obsolete. Most jobs, especially today, can be learned with only a year or two of on the job training. If fewer employers required a college degree for even entry level work that could be done by ambitious teenagers still in high school, we’d see these insane costs of education drop pretty quick.

Speaking of college, there is the scholarly monk part of me who doesn’t like the idea of people condemning education and intelligence. I have always thought people, at least in my homeland, don’t take education serious enough. I think in some ways it’s worse now than even when I was in high school. Granted, thanks to online platforms, getting an education, especially getting self educated, is a lot easier now than it has ever been. Youtube and TikTok are a lot more than just cat videos and dance videos. The Chinese version of TikTok is mostly educational videos. And people in China and other authoriatian nations can get around government censorship of the internet with cheap VPNs like Nord. The only reason I’d consider getting a VPN for myself is if internet censorship in the USA got real bad and to watch foreign Netflix shows I can’t get in America. Censorship and book banning was stupid in the past and far more so now. In fact it’s futile and wishful thinking in the age of the internet. And the internet, when originally designed by DARPA back in the Cold War, was designed to be a communication system robust enough to survive even a nuclear war. Internet ain’t going away regardless of how much power hungry petty tyrants want to censor and screen information.

I think the best way to lower the cost of college education is to allow people without college degrees to get into good paying corporate jobs. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts who started tech giants. Yet, had they not started their own companies, they wouldn’t have had the qualifications to work in the corporate world, let alone high tech. It doesn’t take a college degree to start a business. It does take vison, risk taking, and some funding from people willing to take a chance on unproven ideas. It’s why America is still a leader in tech, industry, and culture even though our students’ test scores are among the lowest of all developed nations. We still have the start your own business spirit that most countries never had. If we lose that start your own business spirit, we will collapse as a nation. Education, is vitally important. And, thanks to internet, it’s also a lot cheaper than the past. Traditionally college education was only for the wealthy and those wanting to go into academia or medicine. I believe self education is more important than traditional education. I also don’t understand why it’s against the law to discharge student loans via bankruptcy. I mean, small businesses, homeowners, credit card loans, medical bills can all be discharged or negotiated via bankrupty. Why is it such a sin to think that student loans should be no different. While I don’t support across the board forgiveness of student loans, I do think the option of renogitation or outright discharge via bankruptcy should be an option. Bankruptcy can be declared on every other type of debt. We don’t require eighteen year olds joining the military to commit for twenty five years. Yet, it can take that long for even vital jobs like teachers to pay off student loans now. Desiring and seeking knowledge should not be condemned like it is now.

It was traditional education that stoked my love and addiction to learning. Learning new things gives me a buzz that no booze, drug, money, romance, or achievements ever have. Part of me thinks it would be cool if there were like monastries for nerdy people who were interested in learning for the sake of learning much like the monastary and mystery school of ancient times. But giving lots of knowledge to lots of people for free could be quite dangerous, especially for those who benefit off the world being as it is right now. I’m glad I live in an age and time where I can get a college level education in subjects like history, economics, literature, philosophy, theology, etc. with several years of binge watching youtube and Khan Academy and it doesn’t cost anything. Even after twenty five years of internet, we are only scratching the surface of what it can do for humanity. Future scholars will look at the interent as one of those society changing technologies like the printing press, gunpowder, steam engine, and perhaps even writing itself. There are no secrets anymore. In some ways that is good. It makes it a lot tougher for tyrants and other bad actors to hide their actions. Even military secrets are no longer safe, as those Pentagon leaks a few weeks ago showed. Maybe eventually the Information Revolution will make large scale war obsolete, if for no reason other than it’s tough to kill people you have had connections and conversations with. Here’s to hope for the future.

April 27 2023

Had my first doctor’s appointment with my new doctor at my new clinic here in Oklahoma City this morning. I think it went well. I’m also due to see my new psychiatrist and cardiologist later this summer. I think it went well. I think I’ve gained some weight over the last few weeks, but I still don’t the aches and pains I had three months ago.

Been doing lots of paperwork trying to get my old medical files from the late 90s and early 2000s released to social security disability. My new case worker here in Oklahoma suggested that since I started having such serious problems when I was in my late teens and early 20s, that I might be able to qualify for increased benefits from my parents’ earnings. Since both my parents worked in the medical field, they made good money. And the case workers is convinced that if I’m improved, I could increase my disability pension by over 50 percent. Makes me wonder why this wasn’t brought up when I first applied for disability back in 2006. I’m thinking I got screwed by my first case worker. I’m kind of upset thinking I struggled financially for years because of a mess up by my case worker. I’m finding the doctors, casewokers, etc. more helpful here in the bigger city than I did back in rural Nebraska. It’s one of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make moving to an urban area.

I’m now on a waiting list for a low income apartment complex in downtown Oklahoma City. It’s mostly senior citizens and disabled people in a five story, twin tower complex. My electric, gas, garbage, and recycling are covered by the city housing authority. We have 24 hour on site security guards. We have on site laundry and library. I’m looking forward to the library as I donated a lot of my book collection to my previous complex back in Nebraska. And they have on site staff and maintenance every day except for major holidays I think. I’m within walking distance of a large park and medical center. I submitted all my financial and social security information to them three weeks ago. I’m now waiting for a response. And, yes, the place is handicap accessible with easy access to mass transit. First time in my 42 years of living that I’ve lived in an urban area. I’m still getting used to the number of people, variety of choices in restaurants and stores, and seeing new building construction every day.

Another thing I’m still getting used to is that the warmer and more humid climate is easier on my joints. As it get real hot during the summers, I probably won’t be outside as much during the summer. But at least I won’t be dealing with snow and ice that stays around for months. The older I’ve become, the more sensitive to cold I am.

April 23 2023

Been quite depressed the last several days. My dad seriously hurt his back and can barely walk. So he’s more depressed than usual. My teacher friend had to have emergency surgery for a hernia and had to miss a week of work. He didn’t take it very well that he has to take it easy for six weeks. But he’s always been active and even finished a few marathons in his younger years. He’s now in his early 40s and I think he’s starting to get unexpected aches and pains. My unexpected aches and pains started in my late 30s. I went from being able to walk 3 miles per day every day to getting winding going up a flight of stairs within only a few weeks. And even though I’ve lost over 190 pounds in the last three years, the stamina isn’t coming back. Neither is the chronic pain in both of my knees and tailbone ever truly gone away inspite the weight loss.

My friend out in Denver is in chronic pain due to fibomyalga and migranes to where she can barely function some days. She lost a job a year ago because of using too much sick time. She also has frequent panic attacks and crippling depression. She fears that she’ prediabetic because of how much sugar and carbs affect her. At her rate of decline, I fear she will have to go on disability within the next several years. And she’s my age. She rarely returns my texts or emails but I think it’s because she’s so depressed about everything. My dad is really depressed from most of his friends and extended family already dying. He’s actually scared to get close to anyone anymore. It’s really heartbreaking watching all the people I love and care about decline. I understand why older people are often grumpy and pessimistic. I just fear I will become that way eventually even though I actively fight against it.

I now recognize there are a few things I miss about the long term care facility. The biggest one is being around younger, energetic, and positive people who were my friends in addition to being my care givers. A couple of the younger ladies on the night staff were so friendly with me even early on I feared they were flirting with me. But no, they were just that nice and positive all the time. Even though I don’t miss being around lots of sick people and having no privacy, I do miss the friends I made in the eight months I was there. I found it easy to make friends with the staff, most of whom were in their twenties and thirties. Several are now facebook friends. But I made more friends in eight months in that small town hospital than I made in the previous ten years of living in low income housing. First time in my entire life I was around people younger than me for long periods of time. It was refreshing and gave me hope for the future. I guess I had forgotten what it was like to be young, healthy, and full of energy. When I was in college, my closest friends graduated a couple years ahead of me. Most of my friends are older than me today. Even every woman I ever went on a date with was older than me. The apartment complex I’m going to is mostly for senior citizens and disabled people. So I will likely be one of the youngest residents there. I imagine there are separate complexs for low income people with children and too young to be considered elders. But, since I will be living with older tenants, I hope much of the problems with noise, drug abuse, partying, and loud music will be kept to a minimum. I just hope I can keep in touch with my new found friends from the long term care hospital. Being around sick and declining people, even watching my friends decline, can make me feel hopeless and cynical. I don’t want to be hopeless and cynical. I don’t want to live my life in fear even though I have several chronic illnesses that will probably never be cured. I spent my life becoming wise and well rounded. Now it’s time to cash in and share some of that knowledge.

Things I Don’t Like About Getting Older

I’m normally not very nostalgic for the old days, but even I have to admit that there are things about getting older that I don’t like and or wasn’t prepared for. So here goes

Seeing my parents become elderly and knowing they probably have only a few more years at most left.

Being bothered more by loud noises and music. Even the phone ringing or my mom knocking on my door startles me more than it did when I was in my twenties. Loud music bothers me too. I quit going to see live concerts when the music got too loud for me, the crowds became less manageable, and I found out I can listen to the same music for free in my own house using Spotify and Youtube.

Not being able to make friends as easily as in college. Most of the friends I have now I’ve had for more than 20 years. I actually made more friends among the staff of my long term care hospital than I did in the previous 10 years.

Chronic knee pain. Be kind to your joints kids, you’ll miss them when they go bad. Mine went really bad when I was 37 and they haven’t come back since. And it just sneaked up on me. One day I was able to walk three miles a day like it was nothing. The next, I couldn’t make it up three flights of stairs without being too short of breath to talk.

Socializing is a lot tougher in your forties than your teens and twenties, especially for those of us without children or careers.

I don’t like the fact that the more I have aged, the more I just want to stay home and be left alone. I no longer have the energy to go out and try new restaurants, go to the zoo, or travel. So glad I did a lot of that in my younger years.

I don’t like that, between chronic knee pain and heart failure, my body has fallen apart yet my mind is sharper than ever. I now understand why elders are sometimes more grumpy than younger people.

I don’t like that I have come to dislike most people anymore and want to just be left alone in my older years. If it’s like this when I’m 42, how bad will I be at 60? I hope I never become one of those jaded old people who hat everything and everyone. But maybe it’s inevitable.

Even in my forties, I find it harder to keep up with the world changing all around me than I did in my twenties. I didn’t really notice changes when I was that age. But even though I devout a significant amount of my time following science, tech, and geopolitics, I still feel like I can’t keep up with everything. I am still accepting of most changes even if I don’t understand them. I’m just glad that enough people do.

It now blows my mind that many of the star athletes competing now weren’t even born yet when I was in high school. I still have a hard time with Shaq doing auto insurance ads or Michael Jordan being in his sixties.

It also blows my mind that we now have some politicians younger than I am. Most of the science and tech innovators are now younger than I am. Also, most of the musicians I listened to in high school are now dead or in their sixties. Heck, I once heard Van Halen being played as background music at my pharmacy. And this was several years ago.

There were some things about my parents and grandparents generations that I was critical about in my youth, namely fighting pointless wars, the rising cost of living while wages didn’t keep up, and the lack of urgency concerning environmental destruction and resource depletion. Now that I’m middle age, I imagine my teenage nephews and niece are critical about some of the things my generation is doing now that we are the bulk of workers and voters. Maybe they hate us for doing less to stop mass shootings, maybe they hate us for making social media a toxic place, maybe they blame us for the US being in decline, maybe they hate us for outsourcing and automating all the high paying factory jobs, maybe they hate us for being more hands on parents than what our parents in the 80s were. Sheesh, some kids are already nostalgic for the music, movies, and fashions of the 80s and 90s the same way I was nostalgic for the music, movies, civil rights movements, and space race of the 60s. I also think the kids are as blown away by their grandparents stories of the 60s, the protests, and the Vietnam War the same way my generation was blown away by our grandparents stories of the Depression and World War 2. And I bet kids growing up today will blame their parents (people my age) for climate change, pandemic, and the possibility of a major world war if they aren’t already.

I also miss being able to hang out with my friends at least once a day. All my friends now live hundreds of miles away. Most have families. All have careers. Since I have neither, I find it hard to find things to relate to them with. It’s kind of hard to relate to my friend getting told off by her boss because I have no boss because of my illness. But I am glad I made the friends that I did. I’m also glad I kept in contact with them over the years.

I also fear that as I get older, my health will only get worse no matter how much weight I lose. I don’t look forward to that. I’m already having some pains all the time and I’m only 42. Some of my friends from college are already dead.

I also fear that the older I get, the tougher it will get to understand and adapt to the changes in tech, social norms, and the world in general. I fear it will make me a bitter old out of touch man who hates everything and everyone. I promised myself when I was younger I would never become that man, or at least not take my frustrations out on younger, healthier people. I never want to be that old man who yells at kids for walking on his lawn.

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Been reading A LOT of articles about automation the last several weeks. ChatGPT blew me away. I read that it can now write college level essays and pass the bar exam. Maybe lawyers will get replaced by machines much like factory workers have been replaced by robotics for decades now. Saw an article just this afternoon that McDonald’s is now opening restaurants serviced completely by robots.

Naturally, some people are complaining about automation. Seems like it’s mostly older people who never worked in fast food in the first place. Personally I think it’s about high time we automate most of these things. I hated working in fast food, mainly because of the disrespect I got from the public and my bosses. The low pay didn’t help either. I used to get anxiety attacks every day before I went into work the summer I worked fast food. Used to vomit from this anxiety. Naturally my parents didn’t care. But, then, neither ever worked in fast food.

Even the Chinese are now automating and outsourcing a lot of their good paying factory jobs. Things like that tend to happen when workers start demanding higher wages and higher quality of life. Just youtube “Laying Flat.” It isn’t no longer just the Western countries with disinfranchised young people. I liked factory work even though I never could adapt to working overnight five nights a week and sleep during the day. I turned in my resignation once the powers that be at the factory refused to transfer me to day shift. I liked factory work because the pay was better, I didn’t have to deal with the public, I got more respect from friends and family, and they let me work with power tools. I probably would have never had to go on disability had I been able to keep that job, at least until the heart failure showed up. But my bosses refused to transfer me to day shift. Since we weren’t unionized, I had no one backing me up.

But, factory work has gone the way of the dinosaurs, at least for most people in the USA. Most people I know who work fast food and retail do so out of a lack of options. College is no longer affordable and a degree no longer guarantees anything besides student debt that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. I know that the trades are being heavily pushed now, but I fear that even those wages will collapse within twenty years much like the wages of office jobs because the market will get oversaturated. It may not be the case now, but wait a few years. The trades are starting to make the same mistakes the colleges did twenty five years ago. Granted, it will take several years to play out. But, we will have a glut of plumbers and electricians if college continues to be unaffordable without debt or office jobs continue to require college degrees. I gives me hope that some tech companies no longer require college degrees. But even they are heavily automating. Why else would Google and Amazon be laying off thousands of workers even with high profits? Even McDonalds and Wal Mart are going heavy into automation. It’s the robots, stupid.

Most people I know are not happy about automation. But, then, most people I know aren’t happy already. First they complain about the “damn kids” wanting 15 bucks an hour to flip hamburgers. Now they are complaining about machines taking those jobs. Used to be a carpenter could support a family of six kids, own a house, not need a degree, or need the wife to work outside of the house. Not the kids’ fault that wages haven’t kept up with inflation for over 40 years. Not the kids’ fault that there is a shortage of affordable homes. Do you know why kids are opting out of marriage and family, they can’t afford families. It ain’t because they are lazy and stupid. You can’t manage what you don’t have to begin with. Same “damn kids” wanting 15 an hour to work fast food would have been working unionized factory jobs in large numbers with pensions and health insurance in the 1950s. The kids haven’t changed, the world around them is.

I guess I’m one of those adults who has empathy for young people. I worked hard my entire life yet I was still damned as a slacker and entitled by my elders even in grade school. I hated it. I still have bad memories from it. That is why now that I’m an elder, I refuse to complain about kids. I vowed I would never pull that kind of crap that was pulled on me if I ever made it to old age. Besides, elders and kids have hated each other for thousands of years.

Personally I welcome automation and AIs. Most people I know hate their jobs. So why be afraid when a machine can do it better? Probably because of the loss of identity and income. But that kind of crap happens when you wrap your entire identity into what you do for money and bosses outsource and automate jobs every time workers strike for higher wages. The bosses and consumers don’t respect the workers even more than the workers don’t respect the jobs. I get so damn sick and tired trying to explain this to people. I lost my career and family to mental illness through no fault of my own much like people lost jobs due to outsourcing and automation. Yet people like me are seen as a leech on society because we don’t do a dead end job that pays poverty level wages that can already be done better by a machine. Hell, I have a friend in Denver who makes over 50 grand a year and yet she can’t afford even a one bedroom house. My grandfather never made more than that yet retired a millionaire. The times changed. We adapt or become historical road kill. God knows I had to adapt to a life without work and a family and my own home. Yet I made my peace with it.

I had this seventh grade teacher who loved to crow on about the “cold cruel world” and how much being an adult was going to be awful. Personally, I’m enjoying my adulthood a hell of a lot more than I ever enjoyed being a kid. And that is even with schizophrenia, bad knees, and heart failure. Just because she hated her job, she thought every kid was damned to be the same way. Granted most people I know hate their jobs. I can understand why with the low wages and disrespect from the public at large and the lack of loyalty from employers. In some ways, I thank God for being disabled in my twenties as opposed to later in my life. I wanted to go into pharmacy when I was a teenager. I’m glad I didn’t make it. Pharmacy is one of those jobs that will get automated before too many years. Some hospitals already have robots refilling prescriptions. And many people get their meds mailed to their houses through distribution centers I imagine are automated. In short, I think if I had to lose my career, it’s best that I did in my twenties when I was still physically healthy enough to adapt. I didn’t have a career or a family due to my schizophrenia. It was brutal going through the adaptation process. But at least I won’t be losing a job when I have kids and am too old to adapt. Not getting married and not having kids because of my illness were the best things I ever did.

We already have the technology and know how to automate millions of jobs and still give unemployed people a resonably decent standard of living. I’m living proof. I just think our politics, economics, and attitudes towards work and life balance haven’t caught up yet. I love studying economics, but I have rarely heard any economist talk about automation and AI. Captialism succeeded beyond Adam Smith’s wildest dreams. It’s succeeded so much that we can now automate a good deal of the work. Sure, some jobs in the trades and medical won’t be automated for a long time. But we simply no longer need 80 percent of workers in factories or farms like we did one hundred years ago. Our politics, economics, education, and social norms haven’t caught up to the science and tech we already have. And laws against AI research won’t work. It’s no longer just the US and Europe that have good tech. That genie left the bottle a long time ago. Isolation and turning our backs on the world will only guarantee the nations that do this will lose the future. We ignore the rest of the world at our own risk. We ignore technology at our own personal risk. People complaining about automation are historical road kill and not even delaying the inevitable by one day. And I hope machines take most jobs if it makes the cost of living lower. Besides, I’ve listened to people gripe and moan about how much they hate their jobs my entire life. Happiest people I know are children and retirees. I wonder why. Thank God I can’t work. End of rant.

April 2 2023

Getting around without a walker for the most part. I use my wheelchair only when I leave the house. The weight loss has stalled out for the last couple of weeks. I’m not gaining or losing weight. My sleep pattern is changing too. I need less sleep and I stay up much later now. I tend to stay awake longer when the weather warms up. I had an interview with a home health nursing agency. They went over my complete medical history. It took a couple of hours. I have an interview with social security tomorrow to see if I can get my pension increased since circumstances have changed.

I’m still waiting for my own place. I’m getting around well enough I think I can live on my own now. I am on the waiting lists for over a dozen places here in the Oklahoma City area. But I have no idea how long it will take. I’ve been denied a few places already because I’m not a senior citizen.

I sometimes get bored with the wait. There’s only so many computer games and books I can read before I get burned out.

March 13 2023

The weather turned chilly today. I decided to spend the day inside. I guess winter isn’t completely over yet. My parents ran some errands and were gone most of the afternoon. I got along just fine alone. I sometimes feel better when I am alone than when I am around people.

I’m still losing weight. Lost 10 pounds since I moved to Oklahoma. I can walk anywhere in the house now without a walker. I use my wheelchair only when I leave the house. My blood pressure is still under control and I’m starting to need less sleep. Most nights I’m asleep by 10pm and wake up in the middle of the night. Most nights I sleep part of the night in my recliner. Seems to help with knee pains.

Mentally I’ve been stable for weeks. I haven’t had any flare ups since I moved. I sometimes get bored with the wait on a place to come open. I’m ready for my own place again. I guess I never lost my independence streak even in the facility. I’m glad to be out of long term care. I’m walking alot more now. I don’t use my walker or wheelchair in the house anymore. In fact, I haven’t used my walker at all in the last few weeks.

Boredom can get to be a problem. I used to remedy this by going to bed early. But that is not an option anymore as I no longer sleep alot. Most nights I sleep eight hours a night. I usually sleep five hours in my bed and three hours in my recliner. I still have knee pain from laying in bed for too long.

Mornings are always the roughest. They have gotten easier as the knee pain has decreased. I used to hurt so bad in the mornings I had to stretch for several minutes to get going. Now it’s only a couple of minutes. Sleeping in the recliner helps alleviate the knee pains. I probably should sleep in the recliner on a regular basis rather than just half of the night.

I guess the more mobile I get, the more I want to do. I don’t like just sitting down and watching tv for hours on end. I need to keep my mind occupied. Computer games help with this. But even I get burned out on computer games occasionally. I still read audiobooks. I still watch youtube videos, especially educational ones.

I have no idea how long it will take for a low income apartment to come open. I’ve been on waiting lists for months now. Hopefully I’m moving up the list. I’m just anxious to get my own place and get back out on my own again. I miss my freedom and privacy.

March 11 2023

It’s been a good last few days here in Oklahoma City. The sun is out and I got to spend most of the morning outside. I’m sleeping more in my recliner lately. Seems to be easier on my knees. I’m still losing weight. Lost almost 10 pounds since I moved here. I get up and walk some every day. I can walk anywhere in the house now. I use my wheelchair only when I’m not in the house. My knees hurt less and less with each passing week. I don’t breathe as hard when I walk as I did when I first moved here. Sometimes I get bored and restless. I’m getting to where I want to do more than just play computer games and listen to audiobooks all day. I’m glad the weather is changing for the better. I’m ready to be done with winter.

I’m still waiting on low income housing to come open. Probably will be waiting on that for another few months. I know I can live on my own given the right circumstances. I can walk anywhere inside the house now. I can get in and out of the pickup without problems. I still have knee pain in the morning when I get out of bed. But even that is starting to clear up some.

March 4, 2023

I’m still losing weight. Currently the lightest I’ve been since 2014. My mobility is starting to come back. I can walk anywhere in the house without much problems. I can get in my dad’s pickup without issues. I get outside a couple times a week. Other than some bad storms on Sunday, it’s been nice down here for the last week. The city blew the storm sirens on Sunday as there were a few tornadoes in the Oklahoma City metro area. We saw mostly bad winds and lightning.

Got to go sight seeing a couple of days ago. Saw the house where my brother lives, got to see where my nephews and niece go to school and have their soccer practices. Ate at a Chick fil A, it’s pretty good. First time I ever ate Chick fil A. And got to visit some of the stores were my parents shop. Haven’t really been much of anywhere besides church until that morning outing.

My knees hurt less and less all the time. The only real problem is still in the morning. My knees get stiff and sore if I go too long without standing. And since I can’t sleep standing up, I guess the only way to remedy this is to keep losing weight.

The meals I’m eating now are slightly bigger than what I got at the facility. I’m still used to eating small meals. Some days I’ll skip lunch or supper because I’m still full from the previous meal.

I’ve gotten to where I can walk to the pickup without a walker or wheelchair. I have less pain now than usual. It’s weird being able to walk short distances without a walker again. Makes me realize what I missed out on during the times I was homebound.

I’m still reading audiobooks. Currently working on The Foundation by Isaac Asimov as well as a couple of finance books. Reading regular books too. Currently working on Democracy in America by Alexis de Touchaville. It’s a classic. If anyone wants to truly understand the politics, culture, and development of America, I highly recommend it even though it’s a long read at over 900 pages.

Some days I’ll put on an audiobook while playing computer games. Next thing I know three hours have passed and I’m halfway through an audiobook. It gets me my gaming and knowledge fixes at the same time I guess.

Listening to more music too. Sometimes listening to some of the material I liked back in the 90s and 2000s is cheap therapy. I forgot how good some of that music really was. Either that or it’s my nostalgia talking. I refuse to degrade any music listened to by young people. Maybe I just took the criticism I took in my younger years too personally. But I promised myself if I ever became an elder, I wouldn’t complain about the kids. Now that I’m middle aged, I have a chance to fulfil my promise.