EgoEimi's recent activity

  1. Comment on What’s so bad about digital blackface? in ~misc

    EgoEimi
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    (I'm pull-quoting from my own little mini essay comment.) I find the issue of digital blackface to be quite legitimate — and I myself am normally not very fond of some recent political correctness...

    Think of a Black woman saying "oh no she didn't, gurl" followed by a Z finger snap. It's likely you see a very vivid image in your head right now because you've seen it countless times already.

    (I'm pull-quoting from my own little mini essay comment.)

    I find the issue of digital blackface to be quite legitimate — and I myself am normally not very fond of some recent political correctness trends. Last month if you heard some faintly audible groan from some far distance beyond the earth's horizon, it was probably mine when I saw that a trans activist acquaintance from my early queer university days advocates the term "pregnant people" over "pregnant women" because trans men can get pregnant. It's like, oh come on, don't bust people's linguistic balls over something that is one in a million (and also would be maximally dysphoric anyway?).

    Anyway, coincidentally, a skeptical liberal friend of mine forwarded me a similar piece on digital blackface to ask what I thought about it — because he couldn't see the point of it. The issue of blackface has been around for a long time; the issue of digital blackface seems to be relatively new. The authors use loaded terms like "appropriation" which have been misused and are now tainted. After Tumblr and Twitter SJWs went about crusading against instances of legitimate cultural assimilation and exchange as "cultural appropriation", everyone now rolls their eyes at the mention of "appropriation". But I think these new arguments against digital blackface have strong merit.

    I think that the problem isn't people using GIFs of Black faces per se, but the leveraging of Black archetypes that are the salient features in the GIFs, thereby spreading, reinforcing, and (collectively) perpetuating certain contemporary stereotypes.

    The Black archetype in the Western imagination is one of exaggerated, entertaining emotionality. Think of a Black woman saying "oh no she didn't, gurl" followed by a Z finger snap. It's likely you see a very vivid image in your head right now because you've seen it countless times already. These images, when produced and re-produced virally in large numbers and in the absence of other counterbalancing images, subtly shape and form our imagination of how Black people can be. I think that one aggregate effect is that Black women are perceived to be comparatively masculine.

    Where I'm coming from as another minority person
    I'm hesitant to use the term "dehumanizing" because it's a very strong word and it also literally means "to deprive a person or group of positive human qualities". There are plenty of benign and ostensibly positive stereotypes. I'm Asian. Asians are perceived to be polite, industrious, intelligent, and academically-inclined. There is a lot of media that spread, reinforce, and perpetuate these images and this archetype of the polite, industrious, intelligent, and academic Asian. I'd like to say that they—in such concentration and in absence of images that depict Asians as romantic, foolhardy, brash, loud, extroverted—limit the range of archetypes that Asians can inhabit in the imaginations of others.

    Concentration of images, lack of counterbalancing images
    White people are represented abundantly in a wide range of archetypes: emotional, stoic, brilliant, stupid, rich, poor, and so on. These form people's priors about white people. Whether you use the blinking white guy GIF or not, there will be plenty of counter-images out there to balance it. The piece my skeptical liberal friend with me specifically advocates not against using GIFs of Black faces, but for being mindful and intentional about which salient features we choose those GIFs for — which I think is easy enough for us to all do.

    5 votes
  2. Comment on What game(s) have you tried to repeatedly get into but ultimately could not? in ~games

    EgoEimi
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    Super Smash Bros. So many people love it. It's the game of choice at a lot of get-togethers. I really... didn't like it. The controls never made sense to me; it always devolved to button mashing....

    Super Smash Bros. So many people love it. It's the game of choice at a lot of get-togethers. I really... didn't like it. The controls never made sense to me; it always devolved to button mashing. The game didn't really encourage people to be tactical or clever. People just sat in front of a TV mashing buttons and screaming.

    1 vote
  3. Comment on Officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright, police said. She’s a 26-year vet, served as union president. in ~news

    EgoEimi
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    Many people oppose automated systems because they fear a surveillance state. Personally I'm in favor of putting cameras that automatically detect speeding or erratic driving everywhere to ticket...

    Many people oppose automated systems because they fear a surveillance state.

    Personally I'm in favor of putting cameras that automatically detect speeding or erratic driving everywhere to ticket speeders or dispatch police to stop erratic drivers. Over 30k Americans die year after year after year after year, and we keep calling them "accidents". I've known multiple people who died in car "accidents". It's insane and horrifying that most of our public urban space is dedicated to these moving death machines that we entrust to strangers to not kill us with. Sometimes I feel like I'm on crazy pills.

    Appoint me benevolent dictator and I will implement:

    • Short term: automated traffic cameras everywhere, guerrilla traffic calming
    • Medium term: gradually redesign every street to calm traffic and introduce bicycle infrastructure (Dutch intersections!)
    • Long term: create public transit and bicycle super corridors, ubiquitous bicycle infrastructure, deep integration between all transportation modes
    • Very long term: add self-driving cars into the mix
    2 votes
  4. Comment on The US military will fully leave Afghanistan on September 11, twenty years after the 9/11 attacks in ~news

    EgoEimi
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    I find that people, even the well-educated, severely underestimate culture and lack imagination about just how very different and alien another society can be. Culture is more than food and...

    For a democracy to function, there needs to be a culture of democracy so you just don't get a tyranny of a small majority that eventually leads to dysfunction. Societies need to be build from the ground up, it's not about swooping in.

    I find that people, even the well-educated, severely underestimate culture and lack imagination about just how very different and alien another society can be. Culture is more than food and language: it's all-encompassing and structures our morals, relationships, aspirations, aversions, information. Afghanis weren't little Americans who just need democracy and some money to become like us: they have a fundamentally different culture

    I've read western journalists chalking honor killings up to ineffective law enforcement and extreme misogyny, but many didn't seem to contemplate that honor killings are not a bug but a feature (and morally sanctioned) within the society, perpetrated by both men and women and enabled by cultural mechanisms like clan honor that are alien to the western imagination.

    Smartphones and TikTok and low-wage-manufacturing-driven mass urbanization—which will create new societal needs that traditional rural tribal-family political systems can't serve and will create organic impetus for new institutions and societal norms—will accomplish far more than what these past 20 years, $2 trillion, and tens of thousands of deaths ever will.

    8 votes
  5. Comment on DMX has died at 50 in ~music

    EgoEimi
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    I knew this would be mentioned eventually. And I was thinking about bringing it up myself. These days we not only grieve artists when they pass but also assess their social legacy and impact. I'm...

    I knew this would be mentioned eventually. And I was thinking about bringing it up myself. These days we not only grieve artists when they pass but also assess their social legacy and impact. I'm a gay man, and I always wince when I hear homophobic lyrics because I know others are passively absorbing them.

    I was surprised that the New York Times, with its usual liberal sensitivities, published an obituary and an article lionizing him, painting him as a sympathetic "profound vessel for pain" while airbrushing away his animal cruelty and endangerment of others, without mention of his homophobia and misogyny. It's true that he had an unimaginably adverse life, but I think that it's not license to promote extreme homophobia and misogyny.

    3 votes
  6. Comment on What charities/orgs are measurably effective in bringing people out of poverty and violence in US? in ~talk

    EgoEimi
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    It depends whether you want to make impact way upstream, downstream, or somewhere in the middle, and that depends on how you view the order of the causal cascade of human problems. In the...

    It depends whether you want to make impact way upstream, downstream, or somewhere in the middle, and that depends on how you view the order of the causal cascade of human problems. In the Effective Altruist community there's been some similar discussion. Some individuals feel that donating money to GiveWell orgs—which ostensibly will save the most amount of lives for your money by donating to organizations they've judged to be the most effective—may actually be suboptimal.

    There's limitless suffering in the world. Some feel that human suffering is a black hole you can throw x% of your salary endlessly at and make very little difference — as an individual.

    However, nearly all human problems are ultimately policy problems. For example, the Bay Area has a huge housing insecurity crisis despite there being so much available land and resources. So much of the Bay Area is just single-family housing, and it's notoriously difficult and expensive to build high-density housing for no natural reason (except maybe earthquake-proofing structures). No amount of rent control, GoFundMe's, and whatnot will fix the fundamental urban planning policies at the root of the housing shortage.

    So, some people think that—as strangely counterintuitive and vulgar as it sounds—it is most cost-effective and impactful to give money to lobbyists to push politicians to allocate state resources or create policy to solve fundamental problems. And state resources vastly dwarf your and all your friends' donations altogether. The ten largest charities' revenues combined would make a rounding error in the US government's annual budget.

    In the 2016 election cycle, the gun rights lobby spent a measly $55m, compared to an even measlier $3m by the gun control lobby. It's only in 2018 did this reverse, with the help of billionaire Michael Bloomberg. If this continues — and presuming the idea that lobby money buys political firepower holds true — we may see positive changes in gun control in the near future. Had half of America donated some spare change to the gun control lobby over the past decade, our current timeline probably would look very different.


    Also, I think it's great that you're interested in orgs that are measurably effective. I once took a deep dive into the non-profit space with a socially-minded startup that aimed to build software tools for NGOs. It was somewhat disillusioning. There I learned that many non-profits are wildly inefficient, ineffective, and disorganized. They're human enterprises like any other.

    4 votes
  7. Comment on I'm moving between apartments soon. Do you have any advice or protips on the logistics of moving? in ~life

    EgoEimi
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    Indeed this + look into cancelling every local service, like gym membership, ASAP. A lot of membership plans require one month notice — or even one calendar month’s notice. If you cancel at the...

    Indeed this + look into cancelling every local service, like gym membership, ASAP. A lot of membership plans require one month notice — or even one calendar month’s notice.

    If you cancel at the last minute you’ll find yourself on the hook paying for a month of something you won’t be able to use, like I have.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on What programming/technical projects have you been working on? in ~comp

    EgoEimi
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    I'm a relative novice building a bike brake LED strip lights that'll adjust brightness based on acceleration data obtained from commercial Bluetooth Low Energy cycling sensors. I also want to make...

    I'm a relative novice building a bike brake LED strip lights that'll adjust brightness based on acceleration data obtained from commercial Bluetooth Low Energy cycling sensors. I also want to make them light-adaptive so they'll flash extra bright with attention-grabbing patterns when the bike is on a brightly-lit street segment.

    Right now I'm roughly prototyping on my laptop to receive wheel+crank revolutions data from sensors, process the data, and stream brake light data to an Arduino. I find Bluetooth to be difficult to work with, so I'm using some libraries that help abstract the nitty-gritty details. However, the libraries are more-or-less maintained. It's not easy finding comprehensive documentation about how Bluetooth Low Energy cycling devices work exactly. I occasionally get inexplicable hardware problems that I can't dive into.

    The biggest thing that stops me from getting projects across the finish line is getting bogged down trying to work out every small detail along the way and ending up exhausted and defeated. For this project I'm trying a different mindset where I focus on the big details, make big compromises and cut corners, and push out a shitty prototype that works just barely. And then going back to work out the small details and do things the 'right' way.

    5 votes
  9. Comment on ‘Believe Women’ was a slogan. ‘Believe All Women’ is a straw man in ~life

    EgoEimi
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    I'm unsure if it's a problem that only education can fix. Information is exponentially growing while our individual ability to independently process information and sort through the disorder is...

    I'm unsure if it's a problem that only education can fix. Information is exponentially growing while our individual ability to independently process information and sort through the disorder is more-or-less fixed (unless we choose to delegate to some third party).

    I don't think it's fake actors who are distorting messages, but genuine actors who see an opportunity to use an established cultural meme to spread their message rather than try to spin up a new one from scratch. The Defund the Police movement had a lot of genuine actors defined the slogan differently, from "we don't mean literally defund, just reform the police" to "we want to shift some funds to community programs" to "we want to abolish the police".

    I think that we need new social technologies and e-etiquettes — I'm not necessarily talking about social media à la Zuckerberg but Robert's Rules of Order, news, and other procedures and organisations by which humans socially exchange and process information — to be widely adopted (or evolved) in order to facilitate more productive, coherent conversations. Especially in the cacophony of the World Wide Web which has enabled billions of humans to shout whatever they want at each other. Right now, we're still using institutions and social procedures carried from the 20th century and learned from our small IRL social groups.

    7 votes
  10. Comment on We selected 10,000 American neighborhoods at random. If we dropped you into one of them, could you guess how most people there voted? in ~misc

    EgoEimi
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    I find California suburbs to be very distinct. The houses and lots are always smaller and very close together with houses almost touching their neighbors. They tend to be older and slightly...

    I find California suburbs to be very distinct. The houses and lots are always smaller and very close together with houses almost touching their neighbors. They tend to be older and slightly outdated, and front yards have a lot of hardscaping and low fences and walls.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on Review a product/service you first used over a year ago in ~life

    EgoEimi
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    All my life I’ve felt a vague yearning and today I learn that that yearning was for this exact product. It might not make happy but it will make an entomophobe like me much less miserable.

    All my life I’ve felt a vague yearning and today I learn that that yearning was for this exact product. It might not make happy but it will make an entomophobe like me much less miserable.

    7 votes
  12. Comment on US rent has increased 175% faster than household income over past twenty years in ~finance

    EgoEimi
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    I very much concur and have arrived at the conclusion that homelessness is not due to a lack of a home per se but due to a confluence of many issues: uncontrolled mental illness, antisocial...

    I very much concur and have arrived at the conclusion that homelessness is not due to a lack of a home per se but due to a confluence of many issues: uncontrolled mental illness, antisocial attitudes, severely underdeveloped or impaired social skills, lack of employable skills, and lack of social capital. I learned this from spending some time hanging out with some homeless folks to give them some company and dinner on holidays. A few were normal functioning adults, but the rest were... clearly not normal. Some could not maintain coherent conversations because they couldn't 'turn take' or read cues well. Others were extremely emotionally volatile and would just 'flip' with barely a warning. I remember one suddenly broke out in the middle of a conversation circle to sprint with a knife at an interloping homeless guy (whom the homeless group had exiled) who was starting to lurk around at the perimeter. Some of these guys I can see reintegrating into society with extensive help; others I can't see reintegrating and functioning in normal society. Granted, I've spent relatively little time with them so I'm not a good judge.

    I think that most functional adults get impacted by housing affordability in that they become housing insecure where they lose their place and end up in limbo living with family or a friend or in a hotel/motel until they get back on their feet or they have to move somewhere else to find different opportunities. But homeless people don't have that kind of social capital to draw upon because they're estranged from family and/or they have no friends willing to offer support. I imagine that for someone to end up on the street, they must have really exhausted all other options — and that's indicative that they have far larger problems than not being able to simply afford housing.

    So far, I think that homeless people should be given one of two options:

    • If they can take of themselves, receive housing subsidies and social assistance until they can get back on their feet.
    • If they can't, then be institutionalized.

    But leaving them on the streets is cruel.

    5 votes
  13. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    EgoEimi
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    I've finally gotten around to reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Finally I'll be able to understand all those pop culture references! I'm having a romping good time. One of my...

    I've finally gotten around to reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Finally I'll be able to understand all those pop culture references! I'm having a romping good time. One of my most-loved TV shows is Futurama. I loved its style of absurd sci-fi comedy, so reading its literary progenitor has been pure delight and entertainment.

    I must admit that my conception of the universe terrifies me: unfathomably large hypergiant stars, massive blackholes destroying said stars, and being separated in my little human dwelling from such cosmic violence by unfathomable distance that I could never cross in a million lives. It is an expanse seemingly devoid of non-earth life that I find more sterile, haunting, and creepy than beautiful. As Fermi asked, "But where is everyone?"

    But fictions like Futurama and The HIitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy amuse me by imagining a universe that is not terrifying and dark but actually fun, vibrant, and populated by aliens who, like me, just want their central-or-whatever nervous system stimulant beverage when their planets revolve to face their sun (or suns) again.

    8 votes
  14. Comment on Cycling through the streets of Amsterdam in ~design

    EgoEimi
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    I wanted to share this because the video quality is great and it showcases the experiential benefits of ubiquitous bike infrastructure. It's not my video, but I lived in Amsterdam for nearly four...

    I wanted to share this because the video quality is great and it showcases the experiential benefits of ubiquitous bike infrastructure. It's not my video, but I lived in Amsterdam for nearly four years and the video is reflective of my road experiences there. I hope that folks like this and spread it. 😉

    I think that when many people — especially bike sceptics — think of cycling in cities, they think of a lycra-clad cyclist who's blocking their car lane, traffic competition, or some hastily painted bike lane. But this video shows how ubiquitous urban cycling and public transit can result in reduced vehicular traffic, quieter and calmer streets, and a pleasanter urban atmosphere overall.

    3 votes
  15. Comment on Climate anxiety is an overwhelmingly White phenomenon in ~enviro

    EgoEimi
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    I also find the article rambling, but I came away with a much more critical take. I found her writing to be imprecise. It's unclear what her call to action is exactly. Her asking that "people with...

    I also find the article rambling, but I came away with a much more critical take. I found her writing to be imprecise. It's unclear what her call to action is exactly. Her asking that "people with privilege" ask themselves self-identity questions like "'Who am I?' and 'How am I connected to all of this?'" instead of practical questions like "'What can I do to stop feeling so anxious?', 'What can I do to save the planet?', and 'What hope is there?'" is unhelpful. Those practical questions are precisely what people should be asking themselves. Everyone should be looking for hope and solutions.

    The author drops in a lot of, ahem, buzz terms like "climate justice" and racism-manifested "environmental trauma" (and "vice versa": environmental-trauma-manifested racism) without explaining them. What do these even mean?

    She uses the fact that early environmentalists were anti-immigrant eugenicists and the 2019 El Paso shooting by an ecofascist to insinuate that contemporary white ecoanxiety is just one step away from xenophobia and fascism. Maybe it is, but I think it's illogical to suggest that contemporary and early environmentalists might share motivations by virtue of their race and that an entire demographic is colored by one very fringe ecofascist incident. Belief in climate change in the US is strongest among Democrats, who are broadly pro-immigrant.

    The writer's claim that Black and brown people have always experienced "the prospect of an unlivable future" and that white and privileged people "are now waking up to the prospect of their own unlivable future" seems strangely forgetful that for much of the late 20th century there was much existential dread over nuclear annihilation and many people in Europe and North America and elsewhere fiercely protested against nuclear proliferation.

    The writer's focus on race and climate anxiety in America is very narrow for an issue that is by its nature global. Frankly, minorities in America are not on the chopping block of climate change: America is relatively insulated from the near-term effects of climate change. Right now, the danger of climate change imminent in Asia and the Pacific Islands, where climate change threatens crop production on the limited arable land that feed massive populations of billions and rising sea levels threaten Pacific nations are largely coastal.

    Maybe her thesis (or theses) is (or are) valid, but I found her initial arguments to be inflammatory and unconvincing. And I'm nonwhite and queer. I probably spent way more brainpower trying to carefully read her article in good faith than it deserved when it seems to be low-effort clickbait to peddle her books / brand. Now I just feel gross.

    12 votes
  16. Comment on So how should your favorite restaurant pay its servers? Well, it's complicated in ~finance

    EgoEimi
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    There's a Prisoner's Dilemma for restaurants. I've read that restaurants that incorporate servers' wages into menu prices lose customers. The game incentivizes restaurants to play pricing mind...

    There's a Prisoner's Dilemma for restaurants. I've read that restaurants that incorporate servers' wages into menu prices lose customers. The game incentivizes restaurants to play pricing mind games with customers.

    It's a losing move for a restaurant to unilaterally change their pricing/tipping system; so, state governments — or whatever appropriate level of government — should essentially force all 'prisoners' to cooperate by requiring restaurants to pay waiters minimum+ wage. I'd also like to see businesses be required to have their listed prices to include all taxes and surcharges, so people won't be given false impressions about the cheapness of things.

    As an another American, I hate tipping culture — and the absurd expansion of tipping culture into other domains like coffee shops, barber shops, and even some eateries. I always have to keep in mind that what seems like a $30 meal is really closer to $36~40 after taxes, surcharges, and a tip that's expected to be 12–20%. I dislike the swivel tablet payment terminals at coffee shops that the barista turns to me, asking me to tip $1, $2, $3, or nothing. There's an imposed obligation to tip something — it feels awkward to select No Tip and turn the screen around back to the barista. But it's silly that customers are made to feel that they should pay extra on top of listed prices to persuade staff to do their jobs properly. If I wanted an amateurish or sloppily-made coffee, I could just make one at home for cents and forego the trouble of playing a game of The Price Is Right.

    I recently had been living in The Netherlands for several years. There I found it refreshing that the prices that I saw on menus were the prices I would pay in the end. They were a bit high but they were honest. Dutch restaurant service has a reputation for being bad, but I liked it for minimalism and adequacy: servers would answer my questions about the menu, take my order, bring me my order, and leave my friends and me to enjoy our evening — without hanging around pretending to be friendly or refilling our water glasses after every other second sip like they would in America. Many places would simply leave a water carafe, which was sensible and economical.

    13 votes
  17. Comment on Hurricane China: How to prepare in ~misc

    EgoEimi
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    I was just lamenting to a friend about this essay and the rambling, unstructured style of internet essays. There's been a big recent influx of such Ribbonfarm, Silicon Valley SV...

    I was just lamenting to a friend about this essay and the rambling, unstructured style of internet essays. There's been a big recent influx of such Ribbonfarm, Silicon Valley SV intellectual-wannabe essays.

    But, good lord, so many of the authors don't know the basics of essay-writing.

    Grade school teaches the hamburger essay format — introduce main points and thesis! Go through and develop each main point! Conclude with tying together main points to thesis! — because it works. The author should give the reader a map instead of challenging them to a chase through a maze.

    And lord do we know in our attention-deficient era no one has the time or patience for a maze chase.

    11 votes
  18. Comment on Brad makes fermented fruit leather | It's Alive in ~food

    EgoEimi
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    This guy has to be Charlie Kelly’s cousin.

    This guy has to be Charlie Kelly’s cousin.

    2 votes
  19. Comment on Millions of jobs probably aren’t coming back, even after the pandemic ends in ~life

    EgoEimi
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    The NPR article is very interesting. I'd like to see a survey of which fields Americans perceive to be in demand and how much it aligns with what's actually in demand (and within reach). I suspect...

    The NPR article is very interesting. I'd like to see a survey of which fields Americans perceive to be in demand and how much it aligns with what's actually in demand (and within reach). I suspect that many Americans do not have good objective information about which job fields they can easily enter, relying instead on word of mouth and news. In the WashPost article, a furloughed 27-year-old amusement park worker watching Youtube videos to learn to code. Maybe I'm being a little elitist?, but I think that she is underestimating long it would take her to become remotely viable as a candidate.

    I read another article posted on Tildes about Apple CEO Tim Cook. It reported that Apple's contract manufacturer in Texas struggled due to lack of an industrial ecosystem and skilled workforce in the US. Whereas Chinese new hires often have experience at other factories, American new hires often had service or retail experience and lacked industrial and manufacturing skills that are common among Chinese hires.

    We have a lot of open and unfilled manufacturing jobs (apparently), and a lot of (working-class) people looking for work that's better and stabler than retail or food service. So, there are a few missing links:

    • Do people know that there are opportunities in manufacturing?
    • Are those opportunities located near unemployed people?
    • Do people know how to acquire manufacturing skills? Can they?
    11 votes