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Ramnath Balasubramanyan
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Minimum Wage Machine
Blake Fall-Conroy, 2008-2010

This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. 

This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.

// rapidly making its way around tumblr, found at SA's D&D

edit for reference:

The average worker earning minimum wage must work 130+ hours to afford rent in New York and California.

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Chad Ochocinco is a consistent source of top-class entertainment. But it's true - a Starbucks gold card is not to be trifled with.

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This site is hilarious!

The +1 button is red now? What's with all the red Google? First the compose button in GMail, then the subscribe button in Reader, now this.
Trying to subliminally scare me all the time isn't cool brah

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For our move earlier this month to Houston, we used the world's best moving company: Sure, it was not a perfect move (, but it does mark a revolutionary approach to how my wife and I think about our frequent transcontinental moves. If you do decide to go with as your next mover, the most important tip I can offer: try and open the box with the box cutter in it first.

We arrived in Houston with three suitcases of clothes each. The rest of our new household was already waiting for us in +UPS and +FedEx boxes shipped from places like Plainfield, IN, Coffeyville, KS, and Breinigsville, PA. Tea, windex, paper towels, office chair, desk, entertainment center, shower curtain, laser printer, lamps, computer paper, pens, glasses, garbage bags, plates, knives, etc. We unboxed our new home in a couple of ours.

Based on this move, I believe that:
1. +Robert Cringely may be right. Amazon may be the world’s first $1 trillion dollar company. (
2. Moving companies face a challenging future. I am never paying to move “stuff” again. On the other hand, the future looks bright for UPS and FedEx.

This past year, my wife and I moved three times due to the complexities of the early 21st Century American job market. The costs were substantial. The last time we moved, I stood in our new living room looking at a pile of boxes. I quickly compared the original purchase cost for a box of dishes versus the 3x shipping costs to move that same box from city-to-city around the world.

The $5,000+ moving bill from our previous move still fresh in our minds, we now had an opportunity to rethink our latest move. Did it make economic sense to ship our collection of worn +IKEA furniture, chipped Target dishes, smelly sporting goods equipment, and yellowed grad school books on another long distance trip? We decided to go all in on new household goods purchased from Amazon.

As Prime members, or addicts as +Erica Joy prefers, we then proceeded to engage in a ferocious shopping spree fueled by 2 day shipping. Our intent was to have everything we needed to thrive in our new city from day 1.

Once we focused on for our relocation needs, I was surprised by the selection of available goods. Sure, I expected to find decent electronics and kitchenware. I did not expect to find bulk orders of toothpaste and TP. It was like discovering that my Amazon Prime membership was actually a pre-paid Platinum Elite Costco membership.

Additionally, as we would be without a car for the first couple of weeks, the availability of virtually every household good imaginable was an incredible timesaver. We wouldn’t need to worry about multiple taxi trips to the local Wal-Mart.

The prolific number of reviews on Amazon is an incredible asset for the relocating consumer. There are now reviews for essentially every product that you could imagine on Amazon, which allows you to baseline the comparisons against your existing household inventory.

Let’s take an electric water kettle for example. I would rate our previous kettle a 4. When I look on Amazon, I can see the consensus is a 3. We all agree the kettle is deficient in one or more areas. Now, since I am stocking my household from scratch, I can go for a water kettle with 5 for an average rating. The blend of quantitative and qualitative data from the reviews enables me to select an ideal kettle in terms of function, reliability, and price.

By repeating the review process over dozens of times across vacuums, TVs, dishes, toasters, hangers, printers, speakers, and tools, we were able to literally upgrade our entire household.

The Cloud – Digitizing Physical Moves
Over the past three years, we have shifted nearly all of our book, movies, and music collections into cloud-based rentals or purchases. As of this move, the untold fortune that we have paid to move books, DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs is finally an archaic practice of another era. Yes, that would be 2011. We have uploaded all our old CDs onto Google Music and iTunes. We dumped all our old DVDs and VHS tapes for our +Netflix subscription and the occasional iTunes rental.

Our formerly massive book library, which at one time required an enormous furniture infrastructure of Elfa wall shelving and Target bookcases, was quietly whittled away over the past four years. For this move, there was no need to ship all those bookshelves and boxes of heavy books, instead we just threw our Kindle and iPad into our carry-on luggage.

Our library, which took up nearly ¼ of our living room in an old apartment, now reappeared in our new Houston home with zero shipping cost. Not only did our adoption of the Kindle library reduce our moving costs, but it allowed us to look for a smaller apartment, since we did not need to think about where we would stick the bookshelves in the living room. So I guess you could say that courtesy of Kindle, did move our book collection too.

And our family photo collection? All digital, all cloud too. Wedding photos: CDs -> hard drive -> Google.

We cheated on the furniture.

We acquired our new bed and couch from the Furniture Gallery, a furniture company able to deliver the same day in Houston. For what we wanted, their selection, pricing, and delivery time was superior to any of the competing products that we could find on Amazon. I probably spent more time looking for these two pieces of furniture on Amazon than all our other purchases combined. Eventually, I gave up.

The corner L office desk, coffee table, and TV entertainment stand were all Amazon purchases though. I only briefly went into character as a salty-tongued sailor during their assembly.

Where did everything come from?
I saved a completely random selection of the shipping labels from the Amazon boxes associated with our move. A couple of boxes arrived via FedEx, but the overwhelming majority were UPS. Boxes arrived from the following Amazon distribution centers (DCs) or from Amazon affiliate companies, a.k.a. Amazon third-party sellers, that participate in the Amazon Prime 2 day free shipping deal. As you can see below, for our move to Houston, Indiana-based DCs were the largest source of goods for our new household.

Read: # of boxes from City, State (# from, # from affiliates)
10 Plainfield, IN (8 from, 2 from affiliates)
8 Coffeyville, KS (7 from, 1 from affiliate)
8 Whitestown, IN (4 from, 4 from affiliates)
6 Phoenix, AZ (4 from, 2 from affiliates)
5 Chattanooga, TN (3 from, 2 from affiliate)
3 Charleston, TN (2 from, 1 from affiliate)
2 Breinigsville, PA (2 from
2 Lexington, KY (2 from affiliates)
1 Indianapolis, IN (1 from
1 West Columbia, SC (1 from

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Sebastian Thrun is quitting Stanford and starting an online university.
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