O-Bits: Cashiered Edition

We get it. The right-wing doesn’t like Jeff Bezos. The Amazon founder, and current owner of the Washington Post, he’s the only kind of billionaire the GOP doesn’t like—a left-leaning  billionaire. But it still seems a little much for the New York Post to accuse Amazon of being a serial killer. “Here’s another industry Amazon is killing off,” their business section whined, the Murdoch-owned tabloid suddenly discovering some compassion for the working classes. The source of this is the Amazon Go grocery store unveiled last month. There are no cashiers and no checkout stands; customers swipe a bar code on their phones, and their account is charged for every item they take from the shelves.  Why, this will cost cashiers their jobs, the story harrumphs (although we can’t be sure if they’re bothered because people might lose their jobs, or if losing their jobs will reflect badly on Il Douché’s unemployment statistics). Now, we’re not techno-Candides here at O-bits, but we think the Post harrumphs a bit too much. It’s not as if the Amazon Go stores will have no employees—people will still need to stock the shelves, set out the produce, greet customers, etc—and our local Ralphs already has self-serve checkout lanes for years. And there will always be people like us, who like to go grocery shopping and choose their own fruits and vegetables, make sure there are no cracked eggs, and check the sell-by dates on our half-and-half and OJ. (We can be such control freaks about our food, we were initially put off when the baristas at Philz Coffee put in the cream and sugar in our coffee. We’ve since come to terms with it, and think they make a pretty good cuppa joe.) We’re waiting for Bezos to move into the mortuary business—we have the perfect name for it: Amazon Gone.

Given that the last video game O-Bits played was Frogger, we concede we’re a little behind the times. (To be honest, we’ve always preferred pinball.) But if you know anything about O-Bits, you know a page with the title “Unintended Outcomes For Disabling Team Killing” would catch our interest. And it seems some players of the on-line game “Fortnite”  are upset they can’t engage in online mass murder, and they’ve taken to Reddit to make their disgruntlement known. “Teamkilling needs to be turned back on so bad,” jaffy883  complains. Some enterprising players have even figured out the ban allows players, as one user laments, to use “explosives in close quarters combat.” Scuffed_pizza_face is nonplussed by the argument. Ninety-nine percent of the players you kill, he explains “are  abysmal players.” We’re not sure that SPF is in the one percent; he tells of a game where they came across a” team mate who just been in a fight, dropped him a med kit and potion.” But in Fortnite (we appreciate the pun, if nothing else…), as in life, no good deed is left and unpunished, the teammate he saved “danced then killed me.”

Fortnite players should be glad they don’t live in Angul, Sri Lanka. A report from the Orisha TV  tells of seven families in that town who were ostracized for two years. During that time, the town heaped garbage in front of their houses, pelted them with stones (yes, apparently, stonings are still a thing), denied them access to the town’s pond and temple, forbade them to participate in any festivals and death rituals, and demanded a ransom to take them back. (We’re not among them, but some people would consider not having to attend funerals or sit shiva as a good thing.) The public shunning went on despite calls for police and local authorities, the district government finally stepping in and providing the families with protection while the hearings go on.

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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