To be read as postscript to “The Factory Store.”

The Future (and Past) is Yours, Young Women!  Brought to you by the Cook Group, owners of Bloomington, Indiana, and Ivy Tech, Cook’s publicly subsidized employee training center.

Manufacturing Technician
Manufacturing technicians are responsible for the manufacture and packaging of potential and existing products. They operate and maintain small production equipment; weigh, measure, and check raw materials, and ensure that manufactured batches contain the proper ingredients and quantities. They maintain records and clean production areas to comply with regulatory requirements, good manufacturing practices, and standard operating procedures. A manufacturing technician may also assist with in-process testing to make sure that batches meet product specifications. An entry-level position requires an associate degree in science and a minimum of 0 to 2 years’ related experience in a manufacturing environment.

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And this operation of uniting and drawing or stretching goes on from one machine to another until the thread is spun, which is then dyed (calico is printed after being woven), -having been wound off on to reels and so made into skeins, – dyed and dried by steam ; then, by machinery, wound on to spools for the warp and the woof. From a great many spools the warp is drawn off over cylinders and different-colored threads properly mixed and arranged . Then the ends of the warp are drawn through the harness o£ the loom by hand. The operator knows the succession of red, blue, green, etc., threads, having the numbers given her, and draws them through the harness accordingly, keeping count. Then the woof is put in, or it is woven!! Then the inequalities or nubs are picked off by girls . If they discover any imperfection, they tag it, and if necessary the wages of the weaver are reduced. Now, I think, it is passed over a red-hot iron cylinder, and the fuzz singed off, then washed with wheels with cold water; then the water forced out by centrifugal force within horizontal wheels. Then it is starched, the ends stitched together by machinery ; then stretched smooth, dried, and ironed by machinery ; then measured, folded, and packed.  (Thoreau, Journal, 2:135)

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Something of awe now stole over me, as I gazed upon this inflexible iron animal. Always, more or less, machinery of this ponderous, elaborate sort strikes, in some moods, strange dread into the human heart, as some living, panting Behemoth might. But what made the thing I saw so specially terrible to me was the metallic necessity, the unbudging fatality which governed it. Though, here and there, I could not follow the thin, gauzy vail of pulp in the course of its more mysterious or entirely invisible advance, yet it was indubitable that, at those points where it eluded me, it still marched on in unvarying docility to the autocratic cunning of the machine. A fascination fastened on me. I stood spell-bound and wandering in my soul. Before my eyes — there, passing in slow procession along the wheeling cylinders, I seemed to see, glued to the pallid incipience of the pulp, the yet more pallid faces of all the pallid girls I had eyed that heavy day. Slowly, mournfully, beseechingly, yet unresistingly, they gleamed along, their agony dimly outlined on the imperfect paper, like the print of the tormented face on the handkerchief of Saint Veronica.  (Melville, “The Tartarus of the Maids.”)

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Machinery has been applied to all work, and carried to such perfection, that little is left for the men but to mind the engines and feed the furnaces. But the machines require punctual service, and, as they never tire, they prove too much for their tenders. Mines, forges, mills, breweries, railroads, steam-pump, steam-plough, drill of regiments, drill of police, rule of court, and shop-rule have operated to give a mechanical regularity to all the habit and action of men. A terrible machine has possessed itself of the ground, the air, the men and women, and hardly even thought is free.  (Emerson, “Manners.”)

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What we fail to confront is that the FACT of work and education tied together to serve an Biological-Industrial purpose is the END of the revolution.  The arguments concerning biotechnology as a dangerous new arm of human material manipulation are finished.  The training to work in these factories concedes that this is already a decided future.  We are committed as a species to something nearly the whole of humanity had no part in deciding.  That is the hubris of the rational “scientific” mind.

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

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