Tuesday, September 30, 2014

All Welcome

Volunteers and clients have dinner together.
We served our last scheduled dinner this year to families of Home and Hope, a group of 30 Peninsula synagogues and churches who provide emergency shelter to displaced families. Larger organizations set up temporary living quarters for a week, and smaller churches like ours help by preparing meals.

Diane made pot roast, Susan roasted potatoes, Irene put together a salad, and I, minimizing labor input and health risk to the clientele, bought ice cream and cookies. I did wash the dishes and clean up the tables, however. We have different gifts, and modest though some of them may be, they are all welcome.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sounding Like an MBA

Your humble observer believes that the various flavors of capitalism are much superior to socialist/statist alternatives. But he is not blind to the human weakness and dastardly goings-on that can arise when individuals pursue their own self-interest.

The top-50 business buzzwords are ingenious and often ruefully amusing. Some, like synergy and poison pill, have been around for decades (the most creative, IMO, are in red):
A “granular” perspective: To examine something in detail – “course-grained” is to focus on the big picture, “fine-grained” the nitty-gritty.
Deep diving: A liquid, “in-depth” take on the above.
Deep pyramid: The structure of a centralised organisation consisting of many layers.
Excentralise: The trend towards flatter corporate pyramids.
Deliverable: An output, product, result, or outcome.
Paradigm shift: Something revolutionary.
Game changer: A step down from the above.
Ideation: The ability to come up with effective new ideas.
Resonance: The impact of an idea across the organisation.
Vision statement: An explanation of what you one day hope to achieve.
Decruiting: Current euphemism for firing people.
Don’t boil the ocean: Don’t waste time or resources.
Pain points: Mumbo-jumbo for problems or challenges.
Emotional leakage: Anger or disappointment that transfers from one person to another.
Eyebrow management: Arms-length management style in which a top exec can stop a course of action by the slightest hint of disapproval.
Falling forward: Risk management term for a learning process that consists of trying something – a product, strategy or organisational change – and scrapping it for a better idea if it doesn’t work.
Gatekeeper: Any person or department that screens or selects.
Bleeding edge – Leading or cutting edge.
Seamless integration: Patching things together so that nobody will notice.
Pushing the envelope: Testing the boundaries.
Data colouration: White lies that percolate up the line as employees at all levels report the state of their business in the most favourable light.
Quick wins: Results that look good but can be achieved with minimal effort.
Let’s speak “offline”: A one-on-on, face-to-face conversation.
Out-of-the-box: To think outside the box, don’t you still have to think about the box?
Informativity: The degree of efficiency with which a company’s information needs are handled.
Disruptive thinking: Being innovative, only more so.
Intrapreneurship: Innovation and creativity developed within an existing company.
Dawn raid (daybreak attack): A surprise takeover move by a predator company.
Death Valley curve: The stage in a new company’s existence when losses erode its equity base, damaging its ability to raise funds.
Hot button: The thing you push to get a strong response.
EEE sensation: Proceeding in the direction you are moving because it’s “easy, effortless and enjoyable”.
JIC and JIT: Just in case and just in time.
CSF: Critical success factor – be it great service, price, technology, etc.
OVA: Stands for overhead value analysis.
MIPS war: Acronym for speeding up computer power to handle “millions of instructions per second”.
MEGO effect: The impact on an audience by an inept presenter: “My eyes glazed over.”
Organic growth: The expansion of business through internal development.
Golden retriever: A cash bonus that lures a retired executive back into an active business role.
Layered: What happens when your responsibilities are eroded by a new layer of management.
Mushroom management: A management technique that keeps employees in the dark.
High-touch: Management style practised in people-oriented companies, where “touchy-feely” methods are popular.
Poison pill: Debt and other liabilities taken on by companies that corrupt their balance sheet.
Psychic income: The satisfaction derived from your job – usually a substitute for money.
Spear carrier: Second-tier representative top managers send to the frontline to save themselves.
Share of mind: A key factor in achieving brand recognition.
Low-hanging fruit: Go for the easiest pickings first.
Quant: A numbers man or woman.
Synergy: A chronically overused buzzword that generally refers to cooperative interaction among groups.
Big data: Lots of interpretations, but usually refers to the explosion of digitised data created by people, machines, sensors and the like that can act as an audit trail.
Bandwidth: In its latest incarnation in the corporate sector, means the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Feeling Free

At 8:00 nearly the whole congregation can fit at the altar rail.
When I don't have to usher or read the lesson at 10 o'clock, I like to attend the early service. It's quieter because there's no street noise at 8 a.m. The service is over in less than an hour due to the music portion being abbreviated, and fewer people are in attendance (the communion line is shorter).

Being done by nine makes the whole of Sunday feel free---to go on a day trip, to watch two NFL games instead of one, or meet someone for brunch. The disadvantage of going to early service is that one can't sleep late, but due to the biological changes wrought by age that rarely happens anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

More Work Than They Can Handle

The rust could have been worse.
After 50 years an elderly relative chose finally to replace the pipes by the water heater.

Having been burned by unscrupulous contractors, she asked her nephew, an architect, which plumber he would recommend. CN, but he's booked and may not want to take on a small project. It was difficult to get on CN's calendar, but after three months of scheduling changes, a half-day's work resulted in shiny new copper replacements for the corroded galvanized iron.

Copper pipes and a new ball valve.
We called CN to express how pleased we were with his work (we were also pleased with the cost, which was under $500). We offered to post a 4-5 star review on Yelp, but he "preferred to keep a low profile."

It's still a sputtering economy, but many of the talented and industrious have more work than they can handle.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Let's Hope They Put Something Away

Automation has eliminated many low-level jobs. Over the next 50 years it will be senior management positions that will become obsolete because of increasingly intelligent computers. However, smart machines have their limits.
[MIT Professor Andrew] McAfee says, “I’ve never seen a piece of technology that could negotiate effectively. Or motivate and lead a team.” Tom Peters, a veteran American management guru, reckons the best leaders of the future will spend half their time reading books.
If those books were as revelatory as Mr. Peters' own best-seller from 30 years ago, reading would be a fruitful, job-preserving activity. IMHO, unfortunately, such brilliant reading material is produced very rarely.

Let's hope for their sake that the senior managers have put something away for a rainy day.

[Update - 10/4: the Economist echoes Mr. Peters. Business leaders should study the classics:
The only way to become a real thought leader is to ignore all this noise and listen to a few great thinkers. You will learn far more about leadership from reading Thucydides’s hymn to Pericles than you will from a thousand leadership experts. You will learn far more about doing business in China from reading Confucius than by listening to “culture consultants”.]

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Expect Little Sympathy

Reassurance from Barron's that the "crisis" of inadequate retirement savings is overblown, at least for the demographic who read Barron's [bold added]:
When researchers adjust for factors like income, children, homeownership, and savings and spending patterns, a different picture emerges -- one not nearly as dire as the prevailing narrative. "I've done thousands of simulations," says Jack VanDerhei, EBRI's research director, "and by and large [baby boomers and Gen Xers] who worked for an employer with a 401(k) or retirement plan are going to be OK." VanDerhei defines baby boomers as those born between 1948 and 1964, and Gen Xers from 1965 through 1974.

The financial industry, naturally, has largely focused on ringing the alarm bells for the mass affluent, defined as individuals with $100,000 to $1 million in investible assets. But most are not headed for disaster. About 86% of Americans in the top quartile of pre-retirement income will have enough money to cover average daily expenses in retirement, including housing, food and transportation, as well as long-term care, according to EBRI. (Census data put the top quartile at households with at least $92,500 in household income. EBRI averages income over a working life.)
If you're in the "top quartile," dear reader, personal spending will decline during your 70's and 80's. In the 90's it will pick up again due to medical and long-term care expenses (graph below). There is a possibility that you could run out of money after the century mark, but if that's your main financial worry expect little sympathy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lightning--the Good Kind--Strikes

Golden Wok (left) is only a few steps from the Key Market (right) -- Google Street View
One of our aunt's favorite eating places is the Golden Wok, which is tucked away in an aging shopping center four miles away. While celebrating many a birthday at this inexpensive restaurant, we've often picked up a few items at the nearby Key Market. The latter is one of the few surviving family-owned supermarkets on the Peninsula, and its location in a shopping center that will undoubtedly be sold, demolished, and redeveloped doesn't bode well for the future.

Lightning---the good kind---struck tonight when a $228.4 million Powerball ticket was sold by the Key Market. The owners, Jack and Nancy Dehoff, will collect approximately $1 million.

[Update - 9/26: nail salon worker Vinh Nguyen has chosen to collect his winnings over the next 30 years (why not be optimistic over his longevity, the creditworthiness of the lottery trustee, and future tax rates?)]

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Zippy's Breakfast Bento #2
Two weeks after returning to California, I'm beginning to hanker again for Hawaiian plate lunches and bento boxes (it's convenient having a dozen food outlets within walking distance).

Airfares have come down now that the kids have returned to college and the tourist high season is pau. Let's run the numbers for an October holiday: free bed, almost-free and plentiful food, and a loaner car. Even if one includes the cost of flying, the price for a week in Honolulu is about the same as a weekend in San Francisco.

Dad bought a new Nissan over the weekend. He'll need someone to break it in....

Monday, September 22, 2014

Without Fear or Favor

The conventional wisdom on the benefits of planting trees [bold added]:
Deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide. The assumption is that planting trees and avoiding further deforestation provides a convenient carbon capture and storage facility on the land.....But the conventional wisdom is wrong.
The reason?
The dark color of trees means that they absorb more of the sun’s energy and raise the planet’s surface temperature....planting trees in the tropics would lead to cooling, but in colder regions, it would cause warming.
In the complex carbon-trading schema that are being devised there have been calls to include reforestation as a method by which carbon credits can be earned. Now movement toward that proposal should slow, if not stop. 

The science was not settled after all, and kudos to climate and other researchers who pursue the truth without fear or favor. (Hat tip: Dinocrat)

In this Honolulu neighborhood the giant monkey pod tree
cools both house and planet.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Until It's Gone

Dr. Charles White, age 102, in 2008
(Time photo)
Time writer David von Drehle remembers Charlie White, who died last month at age 109. Excerpts:
The first doctor in Kansas City to specialize in anesthesiology, Charlie could discourse at length on the invention of modern medicine. He could tell you what it was like to be a general practitioner making house calls in the Depression, removing tonsils with picture wire. It was a hard life, making ends meet on late payments and barter—no health insurance back then. When science advanced beyond ether and brandy for surgery patients, he leapt at the chance to learn anesthesia at the Mayo Clinic.
During his life Charlie White encountered journalist Edgar Snow, jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, and President Harry Truman. What's remarkable, though, is not the famous people Charlie White knew or the significant historical events that he witnessed, but how commonplace this eulogy sounds.

Over the past decade I have attended (too many) memorial services for people who came of age during the Great Depression or World War II. They all contended with hardships barely imaginable to 21st century Americans, met their share of famous people or even acquired a bit of fame themselves, contended with wrenching change without benefit of counselors or consultants, and built a society that became the envy of the world.

We would do well to take a few moments from our always-connected lives to listen to these voices before they are stilled forever. We don't know what we will lose until it's gone.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

No Takers

Matthew's child was the only attendee under 30.
In preparation for next month's 165th Diocesan Convention, representatives of 17 Episcopal churches (aka the Peninsula Deanery) met to review resolutions and meet candidates for various offices. If you want to click away, I wouldn't blame you at all, dear reader, because I agree: it was a lousy way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning.

The proposed resolutions were the usual blah blah blah: climate change, same-sex marriage, anti-Israel, and divestment of companies that run afoul of policies indistinguishable from the far left-wing of the Democratic Party. There was not one mention of saving souls or helping fellow human beings with basic needs, but hey, Christ would have wanted us to oppose West Bank settlements and minimize our carbon footprints.

Why do I continue to volunteer for these meetings? 1) to relieve my fellow parishioners of this burden---wouldn't want to give more people reason to leave the church; 2) I actually like the aging clergy and lay leaders, most of whom have a good heart; 3) the food is pretty good.

If anyone else wanted to be a delegate, I would happily relinquish the privilege; unfortunately, there never are any takers.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Useful Application

Another useful application of data analytics: Time, via IdealSeat, shows the ballpark sections that have the highest probability of receiving a foul ball.

At AT&T Park the section is not behind home plate but near the right field foul pole. (When we sat near the visitor's dugout in August it seemed like the sections behind us got at least one ball per inning, but that observation is, of course, only anecdotal.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gary Taubes: More A Scientist Than An Advocate

Gary Taubes (sfgate)
Science journalist Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories, founded the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) to sort through the deluge of often-conflicting information about diet and obesity.
or all the thousands of studies and billions of dollars we've spent on research, there is no agreement among the experts on why we've grown so much more fat and sick over the past several decades or what we should do about it.
For a subject so important to many millions of Americans, it's a wonder that disciplined diet and obesity research--beyond self-reporting and observational studies that confuse correlation with causation--has not been performed before. When he was beginning to write in 1984
Taubes was struck that science could be so subjective at the highest levels—that it's not just the big mistakes that scientists have to worry about but the numerous small ones that accumulate to support their misconceptions. “You can be fooled in a thousand subtle ways,” he says.
It makes this observer---and perhaps, you too, dear reader---skeptical about "the science is settled" declarations, especially from researchers who have an economic stake in the outcome. To Gary Taubes' credit, the results of NuSI's studies may well refute the sugar-is-poison thesis around which he has achieved his recent fame:
in the entryway of his home, just off the main foyer, there's a frame with two photos in it. In one, taken just before the start of an amateur boxing match, a young Taubes is standing, gloves at his side. In his tank top and boxing shorts, the muscular young man looks powerful enough to punch his way through anything. In the other photo, taken about two minutes later, Taubes is lying on his back unconscious. “It's my hubris protection,” Taubes says. “Whenever I think I'm so cool I can do anything, it reminds me that I am not and that this is real life.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Third "N"

Node C: better to be at the center to pick up gossip.
Node D: better to be at the periphery if
there's a virus going around (YAM photo)
Yale professor Nicholas Christakis believes that social networks are a very old phenomenon:
the basic structure of social networks has been with us as long as we have been human. Moreover, it hasn’t changed much despite the invention of agriculture, cities, and telecommunications. “If you talked with your great-grandmother” who had no phone or “my teenage daughter who has a phone in her pocket,” he says, they’d both have the same small circle averaging 4.5 close friends.
According to Professor Christakis the difference is that now we have the technology to analyze networks [bold added]:
first, cell phones, Twitter feeds, medical administrative records, and countless other sources now make possible “massive, passive” gathering of data about social networks. New computational methods also allow researchers to identify social patterns in this sea of data and begin to make sense of them. And finally, inexpensive and widely available DNA sequencing technologies provide a window into the genetic character of these networks.
To be sure, some of this science just gives a name to what people already know ("homophily - the same inclination of similar people to form ties together"; "degree assortativity - the knack of popular people for befriending other popular people"). The work has produced enough results, however, that it's a safe bet a third "n", networks, will soon be given equal weight as nurture and nature in determining how an individual's life turns out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Popular Family Outing

AT&T Park, across from McCovey Cove
Last Friday we took our nephew's family, which included our one and only grandniece, to their first Giants baseball game. The home team led the Dodgers, 4-0, after the first inning and won going away, 9-0. The lack of suspense gave the new fans an opportunity to explore AT&T Park, eat the tasty, overpriced food, and acquire a glimmer of understanding why a Giants baseball game is a popular family outing.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Premature Declarations

Now (actually, 2012):

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kamana Wanna Manapua

The flight attendant placed the dish on the seatback tray. I pointed to the large bun in the center.

Ma'am, what is this?

"It's got chicken inside. It's like a manapua."

I was pleased that she had assumed that I knew the word. Over 40 years of living on the Mainland haven't completely excised the kanaka aura.

Manapua are the Island version of Chinese pork buns (char siu bow); they are much larger than bow and one can be a meal unto itself.

The airline bun would be the third manapua I had this week. When you're on vacation it doesn't count.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Price Too High

Last Tuesday curiosity won.

I strolled past the house that had been enveloped by the monkey pod tree. Hidden from sight, dozens of birds chirped away, their song enlivening the quiet afternoon. The sylvan setting was indeed uplifting, but for me the price (roof maintenance, fire hazard) of beauty was too high.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Blackeye, Please

Auahi St. Starbucks at 4:20 a.m.
Never having made the transition to Hawaiian time (technically HST is Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time), I wake up early and head over to the Auahi St. Starbucks, which opens at four a.m.

At 4:15 I'm not the first one there; in fact customers are already ensconced with their laptops and drinks---have they been up all night?

My brother introduced me to the off-menu blackeye, a regular coffee with two shots of espresso.

Reloading is easy since--they
have your credit card number, too
The blackeye obviates the need for an afternoon nap; this vacation isn't one for sleeping.

Activating the Starbucks app, I swipe the iPhone over the scanner. Starbucks knows where I've been for the past year, the drinks that my family and I like, the amounts we spend, and the times of day we partake.

In exchange Starbucks sends a weekly coupon to my e-mail address. It's quick and all too convenient.

No wonder Apple wants to get in on the act. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adequate Compensation

Like many diseases, there is a genetic component to Parkinson's Disease, that is, if one has a relative who's afflicted, one has a higher probability of contracting it. (It doesn't bode well that Parkinson's has afflicted members on both sides of my family.)

The Honolulu YMCA conducts group-exercise classes for Parkinson's sufferers. Some attendees are aided by relatives or friends, while others who are able to drive themselves come alone. Muscles that are in danger of atrophying are stretched and flexed twice a week, and all who try---that's everyone---are applauded.

We left the Kaimuki Y and the driver was treated to a nice lunch at a restaurant on Waialae Avenue. The compensation may seem modest, but it was more than adequate. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Aloha to You, Too

This skateboarder is preventing my right turn, but I didn't mind.
Honolulu traffic congestion is fundamentally due to too many cars on too-narrow roads that were constructed before 1960. A recent development that adds to the frustration is the explosion of bicyclists and skateboarders, many of whom weave between sidewalk and street, ignoring red lights and Don't Walk signals.

The behavior of drivers is no better. I smile and wave at cars who accelerate past those who obediently wait in line to cut in ahead of me. I'm on vacation, they're important people going to work, and their time is more important than mine. Aloha, bruddah. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Monday, September 08, 2014

Productive Vacation

Organizing is nearly pau.
The Hawaiian vacation isn't all sun, sand, and sybaritic excess. I helped Mom fill three boxes of books that she will never read (or read again) and organize decades-old correspondence and photos.

As my reward I will take back to California a few pictures of days---and people---who only live in memory.

A productive and enjoyable vacation, though lacking in traditional hedonic pleasures. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You

My childhood church is looking a bit different these days. The interior has been opened up to let in the bright Hawaiian sun. The walls have been re-paneled with koa, matching the pews. Except for the large piece over the altar, the stained glass has been replaced.

The church has a lady minister, a Lutheran pastor crackling with energy and full of ideas to expand its web presence.

I wonder what my grandparents, who helped to construct the sanctuary 100 years ago, would say about the changes to the church that they had faithfully attended. The liturgy is gender neutral, and half the traditional hymns have been thrown out. But the essence is recognizably Episcopal, and the church has become the home of some of their great-grandchildren. I like to think that they would be pleased. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Pachyderm Plate

Helping my mother clear her overflowing bookshelf, I came across this out-of-print gem, 1993's Creative Culinary Concoctions, Cooking with the Cal Employees. (The California Hotel & Casino is a favorite destination of Hawaii travelers in Las Vegas.)

The dishes are laden with calories, but none more than this recipe.

Elephant Stew

1 elephant (medium size)
2 rabbits (optional)
Salt and pepper

Cut the elephant into bite-size pieces. This should take about two months. Add enough gravy to cover. Cook over kerosene fire for about four weeks at 465 degrees. This will serve 3,800 people. If more people are expected, two rabbits may be added, but this should be done only if necessary, as most people do not like to find hare in their stew. (Jim Martin)

There is clearly some information missing:
1) How many hacksaw blades do I need?
2) "Add enough gravy to cover" --- how long do I need to run the hose, and what about the California water shortage (which existed even back in 1993)?
3) Kerosene fires emit pollution, especially indoors, where I plan to cook the stew. Is natural gas ok?
4) What are the per-serving sodium, fat, calories, and calories from fat? My diet app requires this information.

Uninformed readers may be skeptical, but research on the eating habits of our ancestors suggests that we should seriously consider adding pachyderm to our plates.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Beauty From a Distance

Trees provide shade, beauty, and oxygen. But it's possible to have too much of a good thing.

I first noticed the monkey pod tree 40 years ago. Minimal trimming has allowed it to grow into a giant that has almost completely covered the middle house in the lane.

But that's not the worst of it. When a monkey pod tree drops its seeds the pods break open, covering the ground with a black sticky substance that attracts birds and insects. (During his childhood your humble observer avoided playing on fields with monkey pod trees during that time of the year.) I can't imagine what the poor owner of the all-but-hidden house has to contend with, but the longer he puts off dealing with the problem the more expensive it will be. Meanwhile, we who live at a distance from the tree admire its beauty. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Happy to Provide

My 92-year-old mother-in-law needs help around the house, and her children and grandchildren are happy to provide it whenever they visit her (most of us live on the Mainland). Today's assignment was to clear the top level on the hill above; industrial-strength Roundup, which now has a built-in battery-powered sprayer, makes the task easy.

One of the reasons that we have children is that good deeds we perform today will be paid forward by our descendants when we are 92 years old.

Come to think of it, I'd better start looking into retirement condos and assisted living....

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Kanes, Start Your Feasting

We went to Foodland to pick up some items for dinner. The destination was the poke counter, where the spiced-tuna selections were more varied, cheaper and tastier than the dishes found on the mainland. Lomi salmon, four varieties of poke, and a bag of poi were thrown into the cart.

Off to Yamas Fishmarket to buy the lau lau. (Kamaainas will make 3-4 stops to get the "best" ingredients for a Hawaiian meal.)

Yamas had an unexpected find: opihi from the Big Island. A small container was well worth the $4 cost; it was my first taste of the salty shellfish after 20 years.

Absent tastes were spicy and sweet, which were satisfied by later guests who brought kimchi and haupia.

Of course, there were leftovers. No worries, Hawaiian cuisine doesn't suffer much from reheating, and we'll be needing some late night snacks after a night of liquid refreshment.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

All Smiles

Waiting for a ride from HNL
The stars finally aligned with the work and personal schedules (not to mention flight availability), and I'm off to my old home town for a week.

BTW, Hawaiian Airlines' coach service, with a simple but quality meal service and personal touch-screen video, seems a cut above the competition. Our plane was a new A330.

45 years of flying back and forth have taught me never to take a jacket (unless required for business) and pack lots of shorts and T-shirts. Heat and humidity blanketed the arriving passengers, but like a returning kamaaina I came wearing a thin aloha shirt and light slacks.

My ride asked me not if or when but where I wanted to go for lunch. I was home.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Obvious Obviation

Two headlines:

Fast-Food Workers Seeking $15 Wage Are Planning Civil Disobedience
The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities.
[Update, September 4th, NBC News: Fast food workers demanding “supersized” wages walked off their jobs Thursday morning in dozens of U.S. cities — with protesters in New York and Detroit arrested after sitting in the street. The workers, from fast food giants such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, are calling for at least $15 an hour...]
Fast-Food Workers Could Face Robot 'Armageddon'
Momentum Machines of San Francisco has invented a fully-automated contraption that can grind meat, slice tomatoes, grill patties, wrap fully cooked burgers and do pretty much anything else human fast-food workers can do. The machine is capable of cranking out 360 burgers per hour, according to Momentum Machines' website [snip].

“Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas Xconomy in 2012. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”
(Note: obviate is a synonym for "eliminate." IMHO, any businessperson who uses that term when talking about workers isn't much interested in PR.)

We will soon witness the economics phenomenon of producer-good substitution. As the price of one good (labor) goes up, employers will buy more of a substitute (machines). The irony is that the strike will accelerate the process.

Irony, obviation, and substitution, all on this Labor Day 2014.

Restaurants in Asia have robot waiters