>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson
February 4, 2007

Essential New Word of the Week: rapestache (definition hint: suspicious whiskers)

The other day I was watching TV, and I caught an old sitcom called The Facts of Life. If you’re old enough to remember, it was the season when Blair became kind of chunky, Jo sported the world’s tallest she-mullet, and Tootie made a generation of young white boys fantasize about ejaculating across her braces and/or enormous boobs.

That show was pretty edgy for 1983, dealing with all kinds of social issues in ways its audience could understand. In other words, it was like a preachy version of Fraggle Rock, only starring hormonal prepubescent girls instead of adorable muppets. But as edgy as the show was, it was also horribly dated. For example, when the girls discuss Michael Jackson, he’s simply a beloved pop star as opposed to a stomach-churning child molester. And get this: in the episode I saw, there was a milkman!

Yes, this used to be an actual profession. Someone would deliver milk right to your door, every week. It was a genuine fact of life, so to speak. Want the true measure of the milkman’s cultural relevance? A lot of porn from the 1970’s featured milkmen visiting lonely housewives. But that relevance faded, and milkmen were replaced by pizza-deliverymen, and later still, Latino pool boys.

"Don’t go into archaeology; unless you like crawling around in dirt for no purpose."

At some point, the porn industry pretty much did away with plot contrivances altogether. They just began their films with some double anal penetration, entirely devoid of context or character development. And that right there was the end of an era. No more milkmen, in porn or in real life. I’m not saying that this is the fault of double anal penetration, but you have to admit, the idea doesn’t make you feel like drinking milk right now either.

Why did the milkman have to fade into obscurity? I live ten minutes away from the nearest store, and right now, it’s colder than a penguin’s ovaries. I don’t have time to pick up milk when I’m churning out the funny. And I’m always running out. This morning, I came very close to having cereal with Bailey’s on it. I figured, if I’m going to drown Snap, Crackle, and Pop, at least those elf cocksuckers will die happy for once.

If milkmen can go extinct over time, surely other jobs are at risk as well. It all depends on things like technological advancement, the economy, and the steady influx of cheap, foreign labor. If you’re doing some kind of work for thirty grand a year, some Mexican is willing to do it for four zesty tacos an hour. And it probably won’t be long until science invents a machine that will do it twice as fast, for half the tacos.

This is extremely bad news. Al Gore can whine until he’s blue in the face about global warming, but the biggest problem future generations will face is unemployment. Besides, if it were a little warmer, it wouldn’t be so hard to go outside and pick up the damn milk myself. In any case, I’ve been thinking about which specific jobs aren’t going to last another 50 years. Pay attention, lest you wind up the 2057 equivalent of a phonograph repairman or Zeppelin pilot.

1. Law

Don’t for one second believe that law is a safe choice. I know society is getting more and more litigious. Lawyers are now working around the clock to help people sue fast food chains because they weren’t warned that a Deluxe Baco-Cheese Chili Burger isn’t health food. After which, they help those same people sue airlines because their lumbering asses were too large to fit into a human-sized seat.

All that is going to change, though. Someday, the legal system will come to its senses and stop awarding fabulous cash prizes to victims of hot coffee groin-scaldings. Or perhaps the defendants in these lawsuits will simply give up and award the morbidly obese plaintiffs whatever they want, knowing full well that money is just going to be pumped right back into Arby’s coffers.

Unless you’re married to Cliff Huxtable, you can’t expect to have much of a law career and still be able to spend all day with your five children. That’s why the very nature of law is going to change. Trials are too long and costly. Judgments will be dispensed not by a jury of your peers, but by a coin-operated, streetside justice booth. The bad news? You’re always guilty. The good news? You can get those new, exotic Doritos flavors, like X-Treme Curry and Mondo Ketchup (available only in Canada).

2. Engineering

Hey, engineering students. The world just doesn’t need any more bridges or dams. Don’t be too upset, you might be able to scrape a living performing the Monty Python skits you’ve surely committed to memory. There are many different types of engineers, and as unlikely as it may seem, the future won’t have much use for any of them. And I say that as a totally unbiased former arts student.

Even computer engineers will be obsolete, along with computer instructors, technicians, and repairmen. I can prove it, too: As someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I’m handy enough on a computer. I’m no expert, but I can perform all the major functions, fix minor problems, and crank out work on a daily basis.

Now consider my dad, who’s a good 35 years older than me. Watching him try to navigate a computer is an exercise in hysterical futility. He’s seriously at a level where double-clicking an icon to open it wouldn’t even occur to him. I’ve seen him futz around for hours trying to place the cursor so he can type stuff on top of webpages.

It’s not his fault; it’s just that I had more exposure to computers during my formative years. And assuming this pattern continues, kids 35 years from now will know everything possible about computers. They’ll be as skilled as today’s technicians and troubleshooters by the time they hit grade school. And their kids will be born with computer knowledge encoded into their DNA. With everyone so skilled, most computer careers will be as superfluous as a dinosaur’s appendix.

3. Archaeology

Some career paths are so woefully ill-advised that it’s a miracle anyone still considers them at all. Take, say, archaeology. I happen to know firsthand that it’s not all adventure, and killing Nazis, and running from giant boulders. Whenever a centuries-old unkillable mummy is unleashed on the world, it’s usually an archaeologist’s fault.

That’s bad enough, but it’s also a job with a limited future. There’s only so much stuff out there waiting to be found, and we’ve been looking for many, many years. Digging up another chamber pot from Pompeii isn’t going to teach us any more about how the Romans urinated. Don’t go into archaeology; unless you like crawling around in dirt for no purpose. And if you do, at least look like Lara Croft.

4. Show Business

Even if you look like Angelina Jolie, show business won’t be an option in the future. Thanks to the proliferation of reality TV, actors are basically unnecessary at this point. However, there is a strong demand for former actors that can be forced to sing, learn ballroom dancing, and other humiliating crap. If you can launch your career quickly, you can fizzle out by 2010, and maybe participate in the 2012 season of “Kickboxing with the Stars.”

Film actors are in equal jeopardy. Right now, humans can be replicated on screen with CGI, and audiences don’t really seem to object. It won’t be long until studio execs realize that a digital version of Jennifer Lopez, slightly altered for legal purposes, will work for free. Not only that, but CyberLopez won’t have weird demands, like a dressing room scented with gardenia and 2 liters of fresh Peruvian yak’s milk.

5. Music

As for music, well, I don’t think that there’s any substitute for a talented artist. However, name any talented artist you want, and I can hop on the internet and acquire their life’s work in about 10 minutes, without spending a dime. Given that supply/demand disparity, musicians will likely just call it quits. Creating stuff for free may be personally rewarding, but it’s no career. That’s printed on the first page of the PIC handbook, in fact.

6. Civil Service

The civil service won’t offer any security, either. Now, I realize nobody aspires to become a mailman, but just in case you do, please set your sights a little higher. Email, online billing, online banking, and delivery companies have made the postal system a relic worthy only of scorn. More so, that is.

7. Military

Even the last refuges of the barely-employable will fall by the wayside. Considering a military career? First of all, you’re the noblest kind of idiot. Second, the Republicans won’t be in office forever. And even though the military will never disappear completely, the role of the soldier will certainly diminish after the lowest-bidding contractor produces wave after wave of killdroids to do America’s bidding. I bet other jobs will be pretty scarce in the ensuing apocalypse as well.

8. Medicine

If you’re thinking about getting into medicine, you better have a backup plan. Once the futurebots take over, our primitive organs will surely be replaced by synthetic ultra-kidneys that can process water into motor oil, in order to keep our cyberlimbs working deep in the slave pits of Xybulon. And you’ll wish you hadn’t wasted all those years in med school.

And even if that doesn’t happen, the baby boomers are going to bankrupt the health care program entirely by the time your dumb ass becomes a doctor. Of course, this is less of a concern to my American readers, for whom the words “health care program” might as well be replaced with “dancing pineapple monster.” In any case, the result is the same: no one will be able to afford medical care.

Doctors may not disappear entirely, but they’ll probably be reduced to the status of squeegee kids. You’ll see them offering to set fractures and apply ointments on busy streets… for a quarter. The only exception will be proctologists. They’ll never hurt for business, because with some problems, money just don’t enter the equation.

Essential New Word of the Week:

rapestache [‘repstæš] n

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s a hacky cliché, but it also happens to be true. Sometimes, when I see someone on this street, the best tool I have for making a snap character judgment is the poor guy’s facial hair. And, on rare occasions, I see that familiar, bushy, not-quite-symmetrical tuft. These are the kind of whiskers that indicate the dude in question is not quite right. No, that lopsided, outdated, ungroomed abomination has me absolutely convinced that the guy is in fact a rapist. That thing on his lip should rightly be called a rapestache, and let it serve as fair warning. You might disagree, but if you can’t see the obvious connection between rapists and bad moustaches, then I wouldn’t go out after dark if I were you.