Amoeba’s Lorica: The Daily Scaries

So, apparently, this is a thing.

“What kinda thing, OC?”

Dunno, dude. Why don’tcha go schedule a meeting about it? And stop interrupting!

“Sheesh, dude. Didya hit yer head fallin’ outa bed this mornin’ ‘r somethin’?”

Maybe if you shut your mouth and opened your ears, you’d find out.

“Okay, dude! Okay!!”

[Ahem] So, apparently, this is a thing. Or perhaps it’s been a thing for a long time, what’s changed is that it’s gotten a name. Which, according to Microsoft’s copy of the Magic Zuckerberg Social Disruptor and Cash Cryptocurrency Generator [Ka-ching!™], is “Sunday Scaries”.

You know, that sinking feeling that you get on Sunday afternoon (or, whatever day[s] of the week that your weekend falls on, assuming that you get one) that, on Monday morning, you have to go to …"work?!" maynard g. krebs

omg …


According to the comments on this social media post (more on this anon), 80% of working folk have had the Sunday scaries at some point in their lives. Marking that point at which these peeps finally get the memo that work is about compensated service to others. Not entertainment. Presumably, the remainder is that percentage of employers who got the memo and have done meaningful somethings to make the service they’re demanding more bearable. Without going bankrupt. Not easy.

Naturally – and, again according to the comments on the social media post – the author of the article has provided a list of Very Helpful Hints for coping with the Sunday scaries. Including shortening the work week. “Two days is not enough; it’s just not!” So, three-day weekends. And 5-hour days, especially for those over the age of 50, or was it 40? Because it’s just too tiring for the gray-haired to work the full 8-hour day.

All this promoted by people who, it seems, are ignorant of the millennia it took to secure a one-day weekend, never mind the eight-hour day and 40-hour week. None of which is relevant to the minimum-wage tribe, who, despite having 16-hour days and no weekends at all, collectively lack the wherewithal to access articles which were written for the fancy peeps who subscribe to The Atlantic.

Yes, the source article was written in The Atlantic. A link to the article appears in the social media post about it. But no, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba didn’t read it. He tried. “No can”, the robot replied. “No subscription.”

The Amoeba’s mind flashed back to a conversation he had with a slightly older colleague, in which he revealed that, in order for him to keep up with the science in his field, he needed to spend on the order of $2500 a year on subscriptions to professional journals and magazines.

That was in 1977. Forty-three years ago, for those of you keeping score. The same information today (assuming that the costs of the publications increased only as fast as inflation, a fond and forlorn hope) would cost $11,250. As it was, the number left YFNA gasping for breath. Because, with his income as a graduate student plus side gigs, he could have two out of these three items:

  1. Rent
  2. Food
  3. The information he needed for his work

For the third item (being without either of the first two would have rendered the third superfluous), he resorted to libraries – which might, or might not, have the items in question – and charity, in the form of fellow scientists who provided reprints of their work, if they had any. He has spent the bulk of his career trying to do research that would keep him fed and housed and not demand that he keep track of massive, and expensive, amounts of scientific literature.

So why do we live in a post-truth world? Consider: social media are free to users (at least, so far), while sources of hard facts and rigorous analyses are, increasingly, locked behind paywalls. Can there be any real wonder that social media have become the preferred founts of information – and that most of them are prolefeed, and are exploited, to the hilt, as such?

Wait a minute – wasn’t all this computer connectivity and the apps to make use of it supposed to lead to more useful information sharing, more intelligence, more democracy?

Welcome to the Land of Unintended Consequences.

The expansion of universities in the second half of the 20th century was supposed to lead to a smarter, wiser population and greater individual prosperity, yes? Well, in the same list of items that contained the bit about “Sunday scaries” is this: the average college graduate, of whom there are more than ever before, is now more likely to be unemployed than the average high-school graduate, and the bottom 50% of college graduates works at jobs that don’t actually require college degrees, at wages that stand no chance of helping these students pay off their loans. Unintended Consequences.

(A link in the social media post to a story, purporting to explain the government-posted data, proclaimed that YFNA had one free article remaining, after which he would have to subscribe to receive content. He scrolled to the bottom of the article and viewed the title of the next article in the queue. Which he did not open. “That’s it, your free access is over!” screamed the robot. So much for your Presidential candidacy, Mr Bloomberg.)

The co-founder of the rideshare firm Uber has been quoted as saying “If every car in San Francisco was rideshared, there would be no traffic.” According to, once again, that same social media news list (the source article is in the Wall Street Journal, and YFNA doesn’t even try to access articles from them any more – as far as YFNA is concerned, the Wall Street Journal does not exist), traffic in San Francisco and elsewhere is worse than before, because of the growth of ridesharing. This on top of the news that the much-vaunted abhorrence of personal cars by “Millennials” was based on Great Recession economics, not on deeply-held convictions. Unintended Consequences.

A commentator on this post wrote: “An engineer sees a solution for every problem. A liberal arts major will spot the problem with every solution. Tech firms only hire engineers.” Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba thinks that this opinion is on the correct track, but is too narrow and specific to capture the problem. Paul Simon, in his song “The Boxer“, comes closer:

Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest

Solutions with acknowledged problems don’t enter the marketplace – so the problems aren’t acknowledged. If the institution working on the solution allows too many viewpoints into the work, the solution may not even be envisaged, let alone created or submitted to trials. Such is the aversion, by businesses and consumers alike, to hearing (read “spending money on”) what they don’t wish to hear.

For this reason, YFNA reckons that the 2020 election for President of the United States of America is already over. Donald J. Trump is the next President.

He commands the second-largest plurality in the nation (the votes for the largest one aren’t tallied), and the largest one that is united in outlook and purpose. Its solutions don’t acknowledge problems – just ask anyone in the executive branch who testified against Mr Trump in the recent, meaningless, and hopelessly botched impeachment Saturday morning cartoon. And its domain extends (as of the 2016 election) across 80% of the nation’s territory.

His opponents, a loose conglomerate of self-important identity groups, celebrate their paralysis diversity. Any solutions they might develop drown in a sea of viewpoints, each one screaming “Mine!!” They are demonstrably disunited, corrupt, and administratively incompetent. Their Presidential candidates are a sorry mix of octogenarian losers and pretty-faced greenhorns. Of the latter, the most prominent at present is a glib speaker with no national governing experience, who is saddled with the prominently unfortunate name of Bootyjudge (which will surely be a target of social media terrorism, if it isn’t already) and who, despite the social-equality pronouncements of his age group, is unpopular with younger voters – whose pseudo-radical-liberal pronouncements are no less posturing hypocrisy, and no less susceptible to demagoguery, than those of the Baby Boomers and Millennials who preceded them.

Citizens of the USA have not disabled Trump and his government through civil disobedience, and therefore have shown, to Trump and to the world, that they prefer the vile to the chaotic (“rational” and “logical” are not, and will not be, in the conversation), so long as (for now) their mouths, and pockets, are full. On present evidence, they will do the same in November. It only remains to be decided whether Trump & Co. will be able, as now, to use a willing Congress to continue the illusion of democracy, or abandon all pretense and run the country as he and his wish, without a functioning, or relevant, legislature.

Sunday scaries? Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba experiences the Daily scaries.

He is glad and privileged to be able to serve his friends, his neighbors, and (yes) his employer, to have that service be welcomed and set against his long catalogue of sins. For these, he joyfully wades through each passing day.

For the thankless chore of being the “well-informed citizen” without which, We the People have been told since 1776, the republican form of government of the United States of America cannot survive?

Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba sees no reason to haul himself out of bed in the morning.

Any day of the week.

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2 Responses to Amoeba’s Lorica: The Daily Scaries

  1. Quilly says:

    Abandon all hope?

    • Amoeba says:

      The Founding Fathers of these Untied States considered pure democracy to be unsustainable, citing the collapse of such a democracy in Athens, 5th century BCE, and the manner of its collapse, as evidence.

      As social media propagated, along with other tools of pure democracy, such as election-day referenda (Washington State Initiative 976, which gutted the state’s transportation budget in the face of rapidly decaying roads, bridges, and ferries, anyone?), proponents pooh-poohed the critics, saying that the all-pervasiveness of social media would, naturally, drive reason and logic (which, of course, the proponents possessed and would disseminate, to their profit) to the fore.

      Just like television would naturally (said its proponents) saturate the airwaves with profoundly educational and highly intelligent content like the Kardashians, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, and The Apprentice.

      Athens rose from its ruins, some of which it preserves as a memento mori. One hopes that the USA will not have to do the same.

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