When I was a kid, I studied Latin. Vesuvius and its eruption figured prominently into my lessons. I saw a photo once that was of an artists' rendering of what it was like for ancient Romans to flee the eruption, their bodies frozen as the lava pooled around them.
But Rome didn't die in a single eruption. Decades of decadence, corruption and inequality preceded the final demise.
I never watched the Wire in full but I still remember a line from it- "We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now everyone just has his hands in the next guys' pocket." That is a pretty apt description- and thus, even the pretense of competence is going away.
I have a disability and am applying for Schedule A jobs with the federal government. An outfit called Bender Consulting supposedly has contacts with the feds and has sent my resume to the NSA in Maryland. The NSA is of course the last bastion of employment today- you can be in finance, computer programming or surveillance- or you can be a layabout or exploited part timer. [I have friends who work as speech pathologists- one informed me that she has to sign out electronically to go to the bathroom.]
So back to the Bender lads. At first glance it looked like a good resume and I signed off on it, thus violating one of guangho's cardinal rules- never trust another person (or their work). So I gave it a second look and found out, amongst other things, that I worked for "CIRY UNIVERSITY".
To appreciate this in full, imagine that your job is to make birthday candles shaped as numbers: 1, 2 etc. Imagine that you're planning for a 35th birthday party. Imagine that you triumphantly deliver a delectable birthday cake emblazoned with 45.
I often feel trapped because I see America becoming more and more Romeish by the day. I send my resume to Europe and Asia because I don't see the decline as being reversible. We, as a species, have never had it so easy- we can summon food, friendship, jobs, money, etc, with a click- and as our lives get easier, our relationships get more superficial and our work and interactions become more thoughtless and of lower quality.