Bruce Springsteen Introduces “Somewhere in America”

The Boss agreed to write the introduction to 'Someplace Like America.' (photo: Public domain)
The Boss agreed to write the introduction to ‘Someplace Like America.’ (photo: Public domain)

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(reposted from Reader Supported News)

‘Someplace Like America’

By Bruce Springsteen, The Washington Post

20 December 11

View Photo Gallery – A new book gave Bruce Springsteen the chance to write his thoughts about three decades of tough times in our nation. The following are excepts of his foreword to “Someplace Like America,” by Washington Post photographer Michael Williamson and writer Dale Maharidge, both Pulitzer Prize winners.

Someplace Like America: Tales From the New Great Depression,” the latest collaboration from Columbia journalism professor Dale Maharidge and Post photographer Michael S. Williamson, tells the story of American industry and its workers – a story the two began to document more than 30 years ago and published in the mid-’80s in “Journey to Nowhere.” That work inspired Bruce Springsteen to compose the lyrics to “Youngstown” and “The New Timer.”

The Boss agreed to write the introduction to “Someplace Like America.” His words are adapted for publication here, along with some of Williamson’s pictures.

had completed most of the “Tom Joad” record when one night, some 15 years ago, unable to sleep, I pulled a book down off my living room shelf. I read it in one sitting, and I lay awake that night disturbed by its power and frightened by its implications. In the next week, I wrote “Youngstown” and “The New Timer.”

That book – “Journey to Nowhere,” by Dale Maharidge and Michael S. Williamson – put real lives, names and faces on statistics we’d all been hearing about throughout the ’80s. People who all their lives had played by the rules, done the right thing and had come up empty, men and women whose work and sacrifice had built this country, who’d given their sons to its wars and then whose lives were marginalized or discarded. I lay awake that night thinking: What if the craft I’d learned was suddenly deemed obsolete, no longer needed? What would I do to take care of my family? What wouldn’t I do?

Without getting on a soapbox, these are the questions Maharidge and Williamson posed with their words and pictures. Men and women struggling to take care of their own in the most impossible conditions and still moving on, surviving.

As we tuck our children into bed at night, this is an America many of us fail to see, but it is a part of the country we live in, an increasing part. I believe a place and a people are judged not just by their accomplishments, but also by their compassion and sense of justice. In the future, that’s the frontier where we will all be tested.

How well we do will be the America we leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

Now, their new book, “Someplace Like America,” takes the measure of the tidal wave 30 years and more in coming, a wave that “Journey” first saw rolling, dark and angry, on the horizon line. It is the story of the deconstruction of the American dream, piece by piece, literally steel beam by steel beam, broken up and shipped out south, east and points unknown, told in the voices of those who’ve lived it. Here is the cost, in blood, treasure and spirit, that the post-industrialization of the United States has levied on its most loyal and forgotten citizens, the men and women who built the buildings we live in, laid the highways we drive on, made things and asked for nothing in return but a good day’s work and a decent living.

It tells of the political failure of our representatives to stem this tide (when not outright abetting it), of their failure to steer our economy in a direction that might serve the majority of hard-working American citizens and of their allowing of an entire social system to be hijacked into the service of the elite. The stories allow you to feel the pounding destruction of purpose, identity and meaning in American life, sucked out by a plutocracy determined to eke out its last drops of tribute, no matter what the human cost. And yet it is not a story of defeat. It also details the family ties, inner strength, faith and too-tough-to-die resilience that carry our people forward when all is aligned against them.

When you read about workers today, they are discussed mainly in terms of statistics (the unemployed), trade (the need to eliminate and offshore their jobs in the name of increased profit) and unions (usually depicted as a purely negative drag on the economy). In reality, the lives of American workers, as well as those of the unemployed and the homeless, make up a critically important cornerstone of our country’s story, past and present, and in that story, there is great honor.

Maharidge and Williamson have made the telling of that story their life’s work. They present these men, women and children in their full humanity. They give voice to their humor, frustration, rage, perseverance and love. They invite us into these stories to understand and allow us to experience the hard times and the commonality of experience that can still be found just beneath the surface of the modern news environment. In giving us back that feeling of universal connectedness, they create room for some optimism that we may still find our way back to higher ground as a country and as a people. As the folks whose voices sing off the book’s pages will tell you, it’s the only way forward.

Automation and Robotics News Returns: Tony Zaragoza’s Popular Feature After A 90 Day Hiatus!

Federation News, July 20, 1957, p 4

The debate about the effects of automation and even robotics is not new.  As an example of this, note the article here, reprinted from the Federation News, the newspaper of the Chicago Federation of Labor.  The date is July 20, 1957.

Automation and Robotics News returns!  To read this on the web, please click on one of the links below:

Current issue


<>Aeryon Scout Quadrotor Spies On Bad Guys From Above

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, May 06, 2011

<>Quadrotors are literally taking off. Just this year we’ve seen a <>quadrotor carrying a Kinect sensor, a <>mini quadrotor DIY project, and even a <>quadrotor that juggles. But quadrotors are also flying out of the laboratory and finding “professional” applications — like spying on bad guys from above.

<>Boeing Phantom Ray UCAS Makes First Flight

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, May 04, 2011

It was barely two months ago that Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) made <>its first autonomous flight. On April 27, Boeing’s Phantom Ray followed suit on its first flight, maneuvering at 7,500 feet at speeds of over 175 knots. The test flight, which lasted just under 20 minutes, was followed by a perfect autonomous landing.

<>New Recon Scout Throwable Robot Can Climb Ship Hulls, Spy on Pirates

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 03, 2011

We’re already familiar with ReconRobotic’s line of <>throwable surveillance robots, and they’ve just announced a new model, pictured above. Or rather, they’ve announced an entirely new capability for the little robot: it can now drive straight up vertical metal surfaces with the aid of some magical magnetic wheels, check it out.

<>X-47B Robot Aircraft Will Do It All With a Mouse Click

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, April 12, 2011

All those Predators and Reapers flying around in Afghanistan and elsewhere may be called “unmanned drones,” but they’re human-in-the-loop systems, reliant (more or less) on a human pilot in a trailer somewhere. While they often have the capacity to return to a specific point if <>contact is lost, it <>doesn’t always go well, and sometimes it <>goes very badly.

<>Festo Launches SmartBird Robotic Seagull

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, March 24, 2011

Festo has a fairly fascinating, frankly fantastical, and frequently full-on fabulous history with the robotic systems that they develop in partnership with universities and research groups as part of their Bionic Learning Network. In the past, we’ve seen <>flying penguins and <>jellyfish, as well as bio-inspired manipulators like <>this one. Today, Festo has unveiled their 2011 Bionic Learning Network projects, the most awesome of which is definitely SmartBird.

<>FirstLook: iRobot’s New Throwable Baby Surveillance Bot

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, March 23, 2011

<>iRobot has just introduced the 110 FirstLook, a very small and lightweight robot designed to be used for scouting and surveillance when you don’t have access to its big brother, the <>Packbot. FirstLook is 25 centimeters (10 inches) long, 23 cm (9 in) wide, and only 10 cm (4 in) high. It weighs less than 2.3 kilograms (5 pounds). Onboard, it has four separate cameras, one on each side, allowing the operator to see in every direction at once, with IR illuminators for night vision.

<>Lockheed Martin’s Spybot Knows How Not to Be Seen

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, March 23, 2011

There are some basic rules that both humans and robots should be aware of when it comes to not being seen, and <>Monty Python only <>scratched blew up the surface. Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratory has been developing a robot designed to operate around humans without being detected, and not just by being small and quiet: it listens for humans, guesses where they might be looking, and then finds itself a nice dark hiding place when it needs to. Lockheed’s robot is equipped with a 3D laser scanner that allows it to build detailed maps of its surroundings. It also has an array of acoustic sensors, which allow it to localize footsteps and voices. It can then combine the locations of humans with its 3D map to guess what areas the humans might be able to see, and then does its best to stay hidden. Keeping to the shadows, the robot always maintains an escape route, and if it senses a human approaching, it will look for the deepest darkest corner it can find and then hold its virtual breath until the danger has passed.

<>Navy Wants Robot Swarm That Can Autonomously Build Stuff, Apocalypse Unlikely

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, March 08, 2011

Back in July of 2009, we got our first look at <>AeroVironment’s excessively hummingbirdish nano air vehicle (NAV) as it went through tethered and untethered tests. The more capable Phase II version that DARPA asked for is now complete, and is demonstrating controlled indoor and outdoor flight, endurance flights, and precision hovering.

<>Japan unveils flying surveillance robot

Monday, November 08, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Japan’s military is working on a compact spy drone that can fly like a helicopter.

<>Teeny-Tiny Drone Fires Teeny-Tiny Missile (Gulp)

<>Spencer     Ackerman, May 20, 2011

TAMPA, Florida — Never let it be said that small isn’t powerful. A Northern California company has just built commandos perhaps the smallest drone that can kill you. Underscoring the point, it’s even painted camouflage, like Stallone in Rambo.

<>Handheld Spy Drone Too Wimpy for Iraq’s Marines

By     <>Spencer     Ackerman, May 12, 2011

When Marine companies in Iraq first got hold of the tiny spy plane known as the Raven in 2008, it seemed like a perfect fit. Iraq was a decentralized fight — a hundred tiny wars inside a single big one. So it made sense that platoon and company leaders would want an overhead view of their private war zone.

Turns out the tiny spy drone was a little too flimsy and too precious — with too weak a battery –  to get excited about. The Raven was “valuable,” a study later concluded, but it wasn’t a game changer.

<>First Drone Strikes Since bin Laden Raid Hit Pakistan, Yemen

By     <>Spencer     Ackerman, May 6, 2011

Just four days after the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden — and seized more than 100 discs, drives and computers from the al-Qaida hideout — the U.S. restarted its drone attacks on Pakistan. Then, mere hours earlier, drones hit Yemen for the first time in nearly nine years. Could this be the first result of intel taken from bin Laden’s thumb drives?

<>Drones Spray, Track the Unwilling in Air Force Plan

By     <>Adam     Rawnsley, April 28, 2011

Here’s how the U.S. Air Force wants to hunt the next generation of its enemies: A tiny drone sneaks up to a suspect, paints him with an unnoticed powder or goo that allows American forces to follow him everywhere he goes — until they train a missile on him.

<>Pentagon: Robot War Over Libya Begins in 3, 2, 1 …

By     <>Spencer     Ackerman, April 21, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are killing Libyan civilians and pushing back rebel forces, NATO air strikes be damned. So it’s time to send in the drones.

Thursday marks the end of <>the end of U.S. strike missions in Libya. In a press conference, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that armed Predator drones have been approved for use in Libya. They flew for the first time on Thursday, but “the weather wasn’t good enough, so we had to bring them back,” Cartwright said.

<>Did a Predator Just Kill Two U.S. Troops?

By     <>Adam     Rawnsley, April 11, 2011

An American drone apparently killed two U.S. troops in Afghanistan last week in what may be a first-of-its-kind case of friendly fire.

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski writes that the strike killed a Marine Staff Sergeant and Navy corpsman while they were <>reinforcing Marines under fire from the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The Marines reportedly saw the troops headed towards them through a Predator’s infrared camera, could not distinguish them from attacking Taliban and ordered in the Predator-borne Hellfire missile airstrike that killed the two men.

<>Navy Wants Doc-Bots, Robo-Ambulances

By     <>Adam     Rawnsley, April 6, 2011

Not all of the military’s robot research goes into creating unfeeling killing machines. Some of them are here to heal, like the Navy’s plan to create a medical robot to treat troops carried by drones.

<>U.S. Drones Are Now Sniffing Mexican Drugs

By     <>Spencer     Ackerman, March 16, 2011

Next, the <>narcocorridos will sing about the pilotless planes above the heads of their patrons. It used to be that the Department of Homeland Security flew drones over the U.S.-Mexican border to watch for illegal immigrants. That proliferation of military technology to a civilian mission isn’t without its share of malfunctions: Not only did the <>communications systems fritz out occasionally, but on at least one occasion, a small <>drone owned by the Mexican government crashed into an El Paso backyard.

<>Drones Set to Invade National, State Parks

By     <>Richard     Wheeler, February 28, 2011

When I was a kid going to summer camp in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, I counted myself lucky if I saw a black bear once or twice in a season. But campers may soon be able to regularly see something bigger and badder when climbing the High Peaks: <>Reaper drones flown by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing based in Syracuse, New York.

<>Is the Pentagon’s Drone Spending Spree Over?

By     <>Spencer     Ackerman, February 14, 2011

If you manufacture unmanned spy planes, you might have expected more money out of the defense budget request unveiled today. The Pentagon is asking for barely more money in fiscal 2012 than Congress is currently providing it: $4.8 billion, despite what comptroller Robert Hale called an “insatiable demand” among the services for spy gear.

<>CIA Lawyer: How I Issued Drone ‘Death Warrants’

By     <>Spencer     Ackerman, February 14, 2011

You can expect to see at least two people inside the secret bunkers in Virginia where the CIA pilots its lethal drones over Pakistan. One controls the distant drone, his hand on a joystick, ready to fire off a missile at a target below. Another is a CIA lawyer, watching to ensure that the operator is within his rights to attack his target. Call it a “punctilious” method to avoid civilian casualties and legal hot water, as one of those lawyers recently did — or call it the bureaucratization of a shadow war.

<>There’s No Hiding from New Breath-Detecting Robot

By     <>David     Axe, February 7, 2011

America’s robots make deadly weapons. But there are countermeasures to even the most fearsome bot now in service. To avoid detection by aerial drones, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have begun <>traveling in smaller groups. In his <>excellent book <>War, Sebastian Junger even describes Afghan fighters covering themselves with blankets on sun-warmed rocks to erase their infrared signatures, confounding the drones’ IR sensors.

<>One in 50 Troops in Afghanistan Is a Robot

By     <>David     Axe, February 7, 2011

There are <>more than 2,000 ground robots fighting alongside flesh-and-blood forces in Afghanistan, according to Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, the Marine Corps’ top robot-handler. If his figures are right, it means one in 50 U.S. troops in Afghanistan isn’t even a human being. And America’s swelling ranks of groundbot warriors are being used in new, unexpected, life-saving ways.


<>ABB’s FRIDA Offers Glimpse of Future Factory Robots

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, April 19, 2011

Its name is FRIDA, and it’s a creation of ABB, the Swiss power and automation giant, which introduced it early this month at the Hannover trade show, Europe’s largest industrial fair. Designed for assembly applications, FRIDA is capable of using its human-like arms to grasp and manipulate electronic components and other small parts. The machine is a <>concept robot that ABB created to show off its vision for a new kind of industrial robot.

<>F16 Demolition Robot Cuts Through Concrete Like Butter

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, February 25, 2011

Need to destroy something? Get a F16. No, not that <>F16. The F16 demolition robot from Stanley Hydraulic Tools. Unveiled this month, this electrically-driven hydraulic monster comes with five different attachments: shear, breaker, grapple, drop hammer, and our favorite, a concrete-cracking claw. Sure, it’s more of a remote-controlled shrunk excavator than a robot. But who cares? It can tear down walls and cut steel like butter. Can we bring this guy to <>RoboGames?

<>With Two Arms and a Smile, Pi4 Workerbot Is One Happy Factory Bot

POSTED BY: Samuel Bouchard  /  Thu, February 03, 2011

Is this robot the factory worker of the future?

The pi4 Workerbot is a new industrial robot capable of using its two arms to perform a variety of handling, assembly, and inspection tasks. It’s designed to work alongside human workers —  and the robot’s LCD face even displays a broad smile when things are running smoothly.

<>ABB Very Optimistic On China In 2011 – CEO
Wall Street Journal – <>John Revill – May 12, 2011

“We started very strongly in China in the first quarter, both power businesses and automation were strong last year and that continued,” said Hogan at ABB’s …

<>Frost & Sullivan Conceives the Future of Manufacturing – The …

Newswire Today (press release) – May 11, 2011

What part will factory automation play in keeping businesses competitive? How can companies leverage such Mega Trends to stay on top of their game? …

<>Ford Employs a Robot Named Ruth

PR Web (press release) – 2 days ago

The sales team at Maritime Ford – the premiere Ford dealer in Manitowoc – is excited about the new robots that Ford is using to make better vehicles that …

<>Automated Assembly Lines from KUKA Systems Outfit Canada¹s Largest Solar Panel Plant

05/20/2011 KUKA Systems North America has made a successful entry into the burgeoning Canadian solar panel manufacturing sector, demonstrating in the …

<>Let The Sparks Fly…50 Years of Robotic Automation and the Future of American Industry


AWS National Robotic Welding Conference & Exhibition 2011
Overcoming Obstacles to Automation Through Innovation
Sponsored by the American Welding Society
May 23-25, 2011, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Event is designed to benefit anyone considering the use of robots in arc welding applications, or currently using robots and looking to expand or optimize their use.

“Let The Sparks Fly…50 Years of Robotic Automation and the Future of American Industry”
May 24, 2011, 7:00 – 9:30 Dinner and Keynote Presentation
By: Dean Elkins – Senior General Manager
Motoman Robotics, Chairman RIA
As a special feature the keynote speaker will be Dean Elkins, the Chairman of the Robotic Industries Association, and Senior General Manager at Motoman Robotics who will give a presentation about the way in which robots have been assimilated into the American manufacturing market space, making American companies more productive while lower costs, increasing flexibility, and improving a company’s chances of competing in the global market place. Scholarships will be awarded to students during the keynote dinner.


<>Prospero, an Autonomous Micro Planter

28 Feb 2011 at 20:33 UTC by <>John_RobotsPodcast

<>A forum post on shows what’s called a an Autonomous Micro Planter (AMP), a small, six-legged robot named Prospero, that’s capable of drilling seed holes and depositing seeds in them. The forum post includes two YouTube videos and several photos. <>The author of the post, David Dorhout, describes this category of machine as the first of four steps, saying The other three steps involve autonomous robots that tend the crops, harvest them, and finally one robot that can plant, tend, and harvest–autonomously transitioning from one phase to another. Prospero was designed for a contest sponsored by <>SchmartBoard and <>placed first in the Parallax MCU segment (there were also TI and MicroChip MCU segments). The forum post links to <>a PDF which explains the project in detail, including source code.

<>Robotic farms – Hortiplan mobile gully system

Posted 1 Feb 2011 at 13:44 UTC by <>mwaibel

<>I.K.Erripis from the <>Robots Podcast has sent some pointers on how robotics in agriculture is revolutionizing the way our food is produced. Greenhouses are transformed by robot applications and many companies apply advanced technology in order to improve production and the product. One of them is shown in a video recently posted by our friends over at the <>Singularity Hub and reposted above. It shows that Belgian company <>Hortiplan won’t just sell you one or several robots to operate your greenhouse. Instead, Hortiplan will convert it into one huge robot. Their <>mobile gully system (MGS) is an integrated installation that automatically moves the plants through four stages, a nursery, a centralized planting area, an automated growing field and finally to the centralized harvest area. The plants are handled in and out of gullies and they grow through a <>”Nutrient Film Technique” (NFT) recirculating water system, where water with nutrients flows continuously through the plants. There are multiple benefits of this system: Production is increased, the requirements for human labor are reduced and the installation saves time and space for a given yield. The plants, (e.g., lettuce) are also picked up with their roots attached and by being alive they remain fresh for a longer time.

<>Nestlé identifies its future automation strategies

Packaging Digest – <>Lisa McTigue Pierce – May 4, 2011

Nestlé’s automation strategy historically was based on process control. This is where Nestlé and other companies in the CPG segment own the technology and …

<>Robots for Food and Drink


In the food and beverage industry, those who most efficiently pack and ship specialty orders win. In this blog about robots for food and beverage applications, RIA examines some of the drivers and considerations for choosing robots for food and beverage applications. Click here for the blog: <>Robots for Food and Drink


<>Mystery Robot Revealed: RoboDynamics Luna Is Fully Programmable Adult-Size Personal Robot

Evan Ackerman & Erico Guizzo  /  Wed, May 11, 2011

That <>mystery robot that we’ve been teased about for months now, originally rumored to be something developed by either Apple or Google, is in fact a project by a company called RoboDynamics. It’s called Luna, it’s a personal robot designed for people to use at home, it’s fully programmable, and will start shipping later this year.

<>Review: iRobot Scooba 230

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, March 24, 2011

We’re totally stoked about iRobot’s new <>Scooba 230 floor cleaning robot, largely because it’s something entirely new from <>iRobot, a company that we’ve <>gently chided in the past for making only incremental and cosmetic improvements to their consumer products over the last few years.

<>Watch This Robot Crawl on a High-Voltage Power Line

POSTED BY: Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, February 04, 2011

Inspection of high-voltage power lines is costly, difficult, and a dangerous job even for skilled workers. Which means it’s the <>perfect job for a robot.

<>For better service, automate the waiters

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by Rafe Needleman

Storific lets you order food from your table, but the Paris-based start-up needs a more coherent sales strategy.

<>The Rise Of The Robo-Waiter

NPR – <>Patrick Winn – May 13, 2011

Are robot waiters in our future in the US? Here, a robot holds a tray of food at a restaurant in Bangkok. Are robot waiters in our future in …

<>Robot to Move Luggage for Guests in New Times Square Hotel

When the “Yotel” opens up in Times Square in New York City it will offer its guests automated robots to handle their luggage.

<>Service Robots and their Rapid Rise in Multiple Markets

by Adil Shafi, President

Posted: 02/28/2011 Industrial robots are characterized by their use in factories. Almost always they work in a fixed area or move …


<>Industrial Robots Evolve to Meet Warehouse Challenges

April 25, 2011

Until recently, industrial robots have been relative strangers to the warehouse distribution industry. But <>new developments in robot technology, specifically robotic software, vision systems, sensors, and <>EOAT, have brought about a new era.
Thanks to these advancements, robots are now capable of offering distribution companies much more intelligent and flexible solutions. The warehousing industry has been quick to embrace the new and improved <>robotic <>technology. According to a <>study by Paul Kellet, RIA Market Analysis Director, warehouse distribution is one of the most promising emerging markets for industrial robots.

<>Manufacturing Journalist TR Cutler Looks at How Hybrid Forklifts …
SBWire (press release) – May 3, 2011

In the current issue of, manufacturing journalist TR Cutler noted, “Discrete manufacturers face increased global competition, …

<>ITW Warehouse Automation Launched at Interpack in Dusseldorf
Packaging Europe – May 18, 2011

ITW Warehouse Automation will supply fully- integrated warehouse automation solutions across the Globe. The rising costs of labor and fuel, …


<>Earth Day: 5 Robots That Can Help Make the Planet Greener

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, April 22, 2011

Today is <>Earth Day, and one of my coworkers was telling me about all the little things we can do to help preserve the <>beautiful place we all live in. That got me thinking, naturally, on things that robots could do to help preserve the planet. Let’s not be disingenuous: robots, like all technologies, are not a panacea. More automation could mean less carbon emissions and less waste, but it could also mean the opposite — it all depends on how we use it. Below I’m listing five robotic technologies that could potentially help to make the planet greener. If you have more robots to add to the list, or if you disagree that robots are Earth-friendly creations, leave a comment below.

<>Robots Enter Fukushima Reactors, Detect High Radiation

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, April 18, 2011

The Associated Press is <>reporting that two PackBot ground robots from iRobot have entered Unit 1 and Unit 3 of the crippled <>Fukushima nuclear power plant and performed readings of temperature, oxygen levels, and radioactivity.

<>Robots Critical to Survival of Alternative Energy Industry

April 18, 2011

As alternative methods of producing energy become increasingly sought-after, production must keep pace. For alternative energy industries to survive and thrive, they must increase their reliance on the <>industrial robot.

<>E-waste outfit automates to ramp up (photos) Slideshow

Thursday, February 10, 2011 Posted by Martin LaMonica

An electronics waste center in Ontario, Canada, uses a high level of automation to handle an expected higher rate of volume.

<>One day a robot may ask, ‘Paper or plastic?’

Friday, May 13, 2011 Posted by Christopher MacManus

Researchers from Stanford University create an autonomous checkout clerk capable of scanning and bagging your items in real time.


<>McDonald’s hires 7,000 touch-screen cashiers

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 Posted by Amanda Kooser

Would you like some microchips with that burger? McDonald’s Europe strikes another blow against human interaction by installing 7,000 touch-screen computers to take your order and money.


<>How China Plans To Send Robots To the Moon

Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 09, 2011

Despite the fact that the moon is so close (cosmically speaking), we haven’t really interacted much with the lunar surface since the late ’70s. We’ve taken pictures of it and crashed the occasional spacecraft into it, but in general the moon has been bypassed for sexier planets like <>Mars.

<>Nevada Bill Would Provide Tentative Roadmap for Autonomous Vehicles

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, April 29, 2011

Right now, we have cars that that will automatically keep you in your lane while adjusting your speed so that you don’t run into anyone in front of you. You can go out and buy one. It’s not just that the technology exists to allow our cars to do our driving for us, at least on highways… The technology is in some consumer cars already. So why aren’t cars driving us around yet? A big (possibly the biggest) issue is legal: there’s simply no precedent that’s been established for, and let’s be blunt, who gets to sue who when something goes wrong. And something will, at some point, inevitably go wrong, and when it does, what happens next could decide the how the next decade of autonomous vehicles plays out.


<>2010 a Record Year for North American Robot Industry

February 10, 2011

2010 statistics released by the <>Robotics Industries Association (RIA) underscore the reality that more and more companies both in North America and abroad are realizing their need for <>industrial automation. Last year alone, combined robot orders totaled 29,034. Their total value is $1.839 billion. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

<>The Global Robotics Brain Project

Samuel Bouchard  /  Tue, March 29, 2011

Because in his brain resides a database with more than 36,000 robotics companies, robotics labs, robotics projects, robotics researchers, and robotics publications, all categorized, tagged, and linked. No, not in the brain inside his head. We’re talking about the Global Robotics Brain, a project that the man, Wolfgang Heller, started to keep track of the robotsphere. Inspired by Google’s <>PageRank, Heller, a business intelligence consultant from Sweden, asked himself: Could he use a similar approach to draw a map of interactions between the different robotics players and identify who is doing the most relevant work? What trends are emerging?

<>Robots Are the Next Revolution, So Why Isn’t Anyone Acting Like It?

Paul Miller  /  Mon, March 28, 2011

Back in 2006, when Bill Gates was making his tear-filled transition from the PC industry into a tear-filled career as a philanthropist, he penned an editorial on robotics that became a rallying cry for… no one. Titled “<>A Robot in Every Home,” Bill Gates highlighted the obvious parallels between the pre-Microsoft PC industry and the pre-anybody personal robotics industry. Industrial use, research work, and a fringe garage hobby. That was the state of the computer industry before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and that’s more or less the state of the robotics industry now, five years after Bill’s editorial.

<>Robot Orders Surge 31% in First Quarter of 2011


North American robotics companies enjoyed their best opening quarter since 2007, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 4,021 robots valued at $263.5 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through March, an increase of 31% in units and 27% in dollars.


ICRA 2011 Expo Gallery

Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 23, 2011

While most of <>ICRA was devoted to research presentations, there was a lively expo floor stuffed with robots that would be from all corners of the globe, if a globe had any corners. We’re nowhere near finished with our coverage of the research, but for today, enjoy this gallery of pics from the expo.

<>High-Speed Robot Hands Fold a Towel in 0.4 Second

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, May 19, 2011

Remember those <>crazy fast robotic hands that can dribble a ball in the blink of an eye? A research group from the University of Tokyo has been teaching them to fold towels (very small towels) at blistering speed, poking some fun at Berkeley’s PR2 and its rather more, um, <>sedate pace.

<>Treebot Learns to Autonomously Climb Trees

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, May 18, 2011

This is Treebot. As you might expect, Treebot was designed to do one thing: climb trees. It is by no means the first robot able to do this, but its arboreal predecessors (<>RiSE and <>Modsnake and <>accidentally PackBot are just a few) weren’t autonomous and didn’t have the skills necessary to negotiate the complex network of branches that you tend to find on trees worth climbing.

<>This Begging Robot Can Have All My Money

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, April 22, 2011

Seriously, how could you walk past this adorable little robot and not give it everything you have in your pockets? This is DONA, an “Urban Donation Motivating Robot,” which wanders around public spaces and proceeds to look cute until people <>give it money. ‘Cause, you know, robots have to make ends meet too. And from the looks of it, it totally works.

<>Geminoid Robots and Human Originals Get Together

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, April 04, 2011

The ultrarealistic androids, each a copy of a real person, met on March 30 at Japan’s <>ATR laboratory, near Kyoto. Attending were <>Geminoid F, <>Geminoid HI-1, and <>Geminoid DK, as well as their respective originals: a twentysomething woman (<>whose identity remains a secret), Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, and Prof. Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University, in Denmark [photo above].

<>Top 10 Robot Videos of the Month

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, March 15, 2011

February was a big month for robots, but then, from our perspective, every month is a big month for robots. Robonaut finally made it to the ISS, and Watson proved that humans are doomed at Jeopardy, more or less. And did we mention a bomb-disposal bot dropped a real grenade on live TV [image above]? Oops.

<>Stochastic Robots Assemble and Disassemble Themselves

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, February 22, 2011

“Stochastic” is another way of saying random, and stochastic robots are robots that harness the powers of randomness <>to construct themselves. It’s a fairly simple idea that can result in fairly complex objects: you’ve got some number of different modules, which can come together to form a robot. Instead of putting the modules together and building the robot directly, you instead just toss all of the modules and shake it really really hard. As the modules randomly run into each other, each is programed to latch on if it happens to bump into a module that it’s supposed to be next to in the final design. And if you do this for long enough, eventually you’ll end up with a fully assembled robot. Or that’s the basic idea, anyway.

<>Top 10 Robot Videos of the Month

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, February 08, 2011

Robotics is off to a good start this year. In January, there was <>CES, with lots of <>cool new robot products and demos, and we’ve also seen plenty of robot hacks using Microsoft’s <>Kinect 3D sensor, which is creating quite a stir. But there was much more, of course, so it’s time to review the most striking, stunning, and strange robot videos of January.

<>PR2 robot learns to read, follows words anywhere

Monday, May 23, 2011 by Tim Hornyak

At the University of Pennsylvania, Willow Garage’s polymath PR2 robot is reading everything in sight, including T-shirts and coffee labels.

<>Autonomous Robots Explore and Map Buildings

There isn’t a radio-control handset in sight as several small robots roll briskly up the hallways of an office building. Working by themselves and communicating only with one another, the vehicles divide up a variety of exploration tasks – and within minutes have transmitted a detailed floor map to humans stationed nearby.



*Milton Rogovin: A Life In Photography* at Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery

[The environment for this event is an extraordinary exhibit, “The Working Class Eye of Milton Rogovin.” I’ve been there three times and I expect I’ll go several times more before the exhibit closes. But the opportunity to hear about Rogovin AND view his photographs is too much to ignore! — Lew Rosenbaum]


 *Wednesday**, April **20**, 2011*
*Roosevelt University
Gage Gallery
18 S. Michigan Ave.

More about Milton Rogovin:  Click here

*Lecture by Melanie Herzog*

Melanie Herzog is professor of art history at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.

*Author of /Milton Rogovin: The Making of a Social Documentary

‘Milton Rogovin celebrates the non-celebrated, the ones who make the world go round’. These words, spoken by prize-winning author Studs Terkel, are a fitting lens through which to view the work of Milton Rogovin, optometrist, political activist, and photographer. “Milton Rogovin: The Making of a Social Documentary Photographer” chronicles the story behind that life, and the man behind the acclaimed photographs that invite us to see for the first time, or to see anew, the tenacity, profound dignity, and resilience of people living in extremely difficult circumstances. Born in New York in 1909 to a Russian Jewish immigrant family, Rogovin was radicalized by the widespread deprivations he witnessed and experienced during the Depression, and he dedicated himself to working for social and economic justice. After military service in World War II, he began an optometry practice in Buffalo, and he and his wife became active politically, engaging in union organizing and voter registration in Buffalo’s African-American community. His activism led him to be called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and after refusing to testify, he was dubbed ‘Buffalo’s Number One Communist’. Much of his optometry clientele vanished, but, as he would realize, ‘there was also a positive result’ to the attacks. His political voice silenced, he turned to photography as a way to speak about social inequities. In the years that have followed, Rogovin has devoted himself to chronicling the lives of people in New York, Appalachia, Scotland, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Mexico, France, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Germany, and China. Scholar Melanie Herzog locates Rogovin within a tradition of social documentary photography that began when nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century sociologists took up the camera, or, more often, enlisted the service of photographers to advocate for social reform through visual representations of the plight of the poor. But while Rogovin’s work is undoubtedly political, he does not romanticize his subjects or seek to portray them as victims or heroes; he seeks simply to convey the effects of material reality on people and their agency, to show how people live in relation to social conditions. This richly illustrated retrospective features Rogovin’s own narrative of his development and life as a documentary photographer, amplified by an account of the historical events and circumstances that shaped his politics and social consciousness. Milton Rogovin has dedicated his life’s work – as an optometrist, an activist, and a photographer – to enabling people to see more clearly. His photographs demand witness, and to witness is to see.

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (September 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780295986340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295986340

Brenda Cardenas: Dispatches From Poets On The Ground

[Poet Brenda Cardenas sent this dispatch to us, reflecting on politics and poetry and the battle for Madison — Lew Rosenbaum]

On Wisconsin 2: Dispatches from Poets on the Ground: Brenda Cardenas

Bread of the Earth: One Worker’s Perspective on the Wisconsin Struggle for Justice

After a Rally at the Carlos Cortez Mural, Milwas, WI

Viva la Cheddar Revolution

The granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and German working class people who at one time belonged to Wisconsin’s Socialist Worker’s Party, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 60’s and 70’s. I’ll never forget my grandpa Cardenas’ stories about the abuse he and his brother suffered as non-union tannery workers, how his brother died of an illness related to those labor conditions, and how only when my grandfather finally, in his 40’s, got a job as an assembly line worker in a union shop, did he feel like he was treated as a human being at work. His gratitude was such that years after he had retired, he would march on the picket lines with his union brothers when they were on strike. My father started his working life in a factory; my mother, in her 70’s, still works an office job because she cannot afford to retire. Aunts and uncles on both sides of the family labored as electricians, clerical staff, telephone operators, bookkeepers, truck drivers, grocery clerks, foundry workers, and barkeeps. They always worked, sometimes two jobs, in both the public and private sectors, both with union support and without, but no matter, they never believed that the right to collective bargaining was anything but a human right. Even the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (item 2A) defines “freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain” as an essential right of all workers. Scott Walker is in contempt of the United Nations . . . click here to read more and view more photos

Journal Of Ordinary Thought: Winter 2011 Writing On Food


CONTACT: Hollen Reischer/ Assistant Director, Neighborhood Writing Alliance/ Editor, Journal Ordinary Thought

773-684-2742 /

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance is proud to present

“I Always Like Plenty of Napkins”

Winter 2011 Journal of Ordinary Thought

NWA Writers on Food


CHICAGO—The Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA) announces “I Always Like Plenty of Napkins,” the Winter 2011 issue of the Journal of Ordinary Thought. This food-themed issue features prose and poetry from Albany Park, Uptown, Chicago Lawn, Bronzeville, the Near West Side, Humboldt Park, and St. Leonard’s House. Photographs of Chicago’s food culture, taken by DePaul University students under the guidance of professor and photographer Jason Reblando, accompany the writing.

The beautiful 96-page journal features:

an introduction by Lisa Yun Lee, Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum;

photographs of Chicago’s food scene taken by

DePaul University students taught by professor and photographer Jason Reblando;

and writing by over 60 NWA writers.

Read prose and poetry about food justice issues, food memories, and food culture:

  • “Too many fat kids going to

Too many burger joints, taco joints, pizza joints, fried fish joints, BBQ joints

Too many McDonald’s, Burger Kings, White Castles, Taco Bells…”

Christelle Evans

Hall Branch Library, Thursday Writing Group

  • “Years later, I remember sitting on the side of the bed when he was in a wheelchair, as together we ate Archway cookies, cheese, and Pepsi on ice.”

Jeanette Moton

Hall Branch Library, Monday Writing Group

  • “But a true Greek salad, a true horiatiki, is not of the Food Industrial Complex; it is of the village. In Greece, open-air markets are still alive and well. Every town has local growers who gather on the weekends to sell fresh produce to their neighbors.”

Stavroula Harissis

Albany Park Branch Library

NWA writers will present their work on Tuesday, March 15 from 6-8 p.m.

at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum Residents’ Dining Hall (800 S. Halsted).

Admission is free, and complimentary copies of “I Always Like Plenty of Napkins” will be available.

This location is handicap accessible.

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance is a Chicago-based not-for-profit that runs writing workshops for adults in low-income Chicago neighborhoods and publishes pieces from those workshops in its quarterly, award-winning publication, the Journal of Ordinary Thought. NWA presents the writers and their work in 25–30 events and readings each year. NWA workshops are free and open to adults of all levels of writing experience.


Vivian Maier, Chicago Street Photographer

From Chicago Tonight, with Phil Ponce, on WTTW Channel 11

Posted by John Maloof,

Cultural Connection: Vivian Maier
The amazing story of Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny who took more than 100,000 photos during her lifetime but never showed them to anyone. Now that she’s gone and her photos have been discovered, some say she may rank among the top street photographers of the 20th century. Jay Shefsky brings us tonight’s “Cultural Connection.”
More Vivian Maier photos and information
The show at the Chicago Cultural Center, Jan. 7 – April 3

The link to the Chicago Tonight clip is also here. . .

Documenting The Forgotten Ones: The Working Class Eye Of Milton Rogovin

[An extraordinary exhibit opens Jan. 20, 2011.  Original prints, many never before exhibited, representing the life work of acclaimed photographer Milton Rogovin will be on view until June 30, 2011.  Rogovin was active politically in Buffalo and was blacklisted during the 1950’s.  He lost his optometry practice then, and decided to turn to photography as a way to continue to speak out.  Visit this link to explore the work of Milton Rogovin, to hear the interview with Rogovin and his daughter on his 100th birthday ( Dec. 30, 2009), read Rogovin’s poetry (Milton Rogovin reads his own poetry in the interview), and much more.  The Gage Gallery link gives updated information about the exhibit and events in the exhibit space. – Lew Rosenbaum]

Gage Gallery hours

Monday – Friday 9-6
Saturdays 10-4


Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin

A one-of-a-kind, vintage photo exhibit that tells compelling stories about work and working-class people through the eyes of renowned photographer Milton Rogovin.  The debut exhibit, The Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin, features some striking images of workers from the living photographer’s collection that have never been seen before by the public. 

Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin 

Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin
previous next
Born in 1909 in New York City, Rogovin went to Buffalo, New York, for work as an optometrist. Involved in political work as well, Rogovin looked to socialism as a model for improving the lot of workers and was called before the House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1957.
Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin 

Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin
previous next
As a result of this, Rogovin’s business dwindled and he decided to pursue photography as a means to express the worth and dignity of people who make their livings under modest and difficult circumstances.
Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin 

Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin
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“This show is different and very exciting for my family because it is one of those rare times when organizers of a show took the time to choose the images themselves and to exhibit them uniquely through the lens of the working-class eye.” said Mark Rogovin, son of the documentary photographer.
Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin
Rogovin opened his father’s vast collection to Ensdorf, who curated the new exhibit, in consultation with Roosevelt labor historians Erik Gellman and Jack Metzgar. The three Roosevelt professors spent more than four months sifting through more than 1,000 photos of working-class people taken by Rogovin during the last half century in order to present the exhibit that is unlike any previous Rogovin show.
Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin

Gage Gallery

The Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin

Opening reception and presentation by Mark Rogovin
Thursday, January 20, 2011
5-8 p.m

Featured events during exhibition:

  • February 18: Newberry Labor History Seminar
  • March, TBA: annual Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies “Getting Paid to Cause Trouble” panel
  • April 1st: Graduate student History/Sociology Conference keynote event, speaker TBA
  • April 7th: Triangle Fire 100th anniversary event in Gage Gallery featuring Professor Jo Ann Argersinger from Southern Illinois University, co-sponsored by Roosevelt and UIC History Departments and the New Deal Center at Roosevelt.
  • April 20th: Melanie Herzog, Professor of Art History, Edgewood College, presentation on her biography of Milton Rogovin
  • June 23rd: Working-Class Studies conference event, featuring Janet Zandy, Professor of English and American Studies, RIT on the “Working-Class Eye” and Erik S. Gellman, Assistant Professor of History, Roosevelt University on “Rogovin in Historical Context”

Exhibition made possible by generous financial support from Susan B. Rubnitz.
Sponsored by Roosevelt University’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies, and the Labor and Working-Class History Association.

Photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo to Receive Cesar Chavez Award

Black Eagle Press Release 2010


Wayne Hanley, UFCW Canada President, and the Agriculture Workers Alliance are proud to announce the recipients of the 2010 Cesar E. Chavez Black Eagle Awards.


  • Olivia Chow MP -NDP Immigration Critic
  • Paul Cavalluzzo – Lawyer

    Vincenzo Pietropaolo's Harvest Pilgrims documents the lives of Canadian agricultural workers

  • Leonel Godoy – Governor for the state of Michoacán, Mexico
  • Gill McGowan – President Alberta Federation of Labour
  • Kerry Preibisch – Sociology Professor Guelph University
  • Vincenzo Pietropaolo – Photographer and Activist


The eleventh annual “Black Eagle Awards” acknowledges outstanding contributions by individuals towards dignity and respect for agriculture worker. The Award named after Cesar E Chavez the founder of the United Farm Workers Union in California, and his life long struggle for a safe and just food supply across North America.

This annual event is the only fundraiser for the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) which is Canada’s largest organization of agriculture workers. The AWA runs ten support centers across Canada that provides free support and advocacy for agriculture workers. The vast majority of the work is on behalf of the tens of thousands of seasonal agricultural workers from Jamaica, Mexico and other Eastern Caribbean countries. With the expansion of the temporary foreign worker programs for the agriculture industry the AWA are now providing services in Canada to workers from around the world including Guatemala, Thailand, Philippines, Honduras and South Asia.


For tickets and more information contact Stan Raper – National Coordinator Agriculture Workers Alliance at 416-675-1104 x232


This year’s event will be held at the Ontario Federation of Labour Building in Toronto on November 3rd 2010.

Producing Local Color — New Book by Diane Grams

There will be a panel discussion and book release party at the Chicago Cultural Center November 18, 2010.

Diane Grams' Producing Local Color

New Book Captures the Vibrant Hip-Hop Culture of Atlanta

ATLANTA, photographer Michael Schmelling’s new book, captures the city’s vibrant hip-hop culture.

Atlanta: Hip Hop and the South

Published by Chronicle Books November 1, 2010
The volume includes essays by Kelefa Sanneh and Will Welch’s interviews with André 3000, Big Boi, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Shawty Lo, and The-Dream.

Accompanying download features unreleased tracks from the scene’s rising stars.

Chronicle Books will publish Atlanta, the new book from acclaimed photographer/director/author Michael Schmelling, on November 1st.  Atlanta evokes the incredible diversity of the city’s hip-hop scene, capturing the lives of everyone from up-and-coming rappers to club kids to multi-Platinum artists. It also includes a series of insightful essays by The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh. Exclusive interviews with key figures like André 3000, Big Boi, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Shawty Lo, and The-Dream were conducted by Will Welch, an associate editor at GQ.

Each book will contain a code enabling readers to download a mixtape of tracks from many of the unsigned musicians featured in Atlanta, including Travis Porter, 3rd Degree, Pill, Lil Texas (who is the subject of the striking cover image) and Them Concrete Boyz.

“We wanted to let people hear the music that the kids in the book are making in their homes and self releasing,” says Schmelling, who was the principal photographer for The Wilco Book. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers and has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Between 2007 and 2009, Schmelling and his collaborators gained unprecedented access to the underground hip-hop scenes bubbling beneath the city’s surface and the lives of the young musicians and fans at its core. In a stunning series of black and white photos, he captures the heretofore-undocumented teen party scene – alcohol-free parties catering to the underage crowd, typically thrown by promoters in office parks after dark.

Like Atlanta’s ever-evolving music scene, Schmelling’s concept for the book changed over time. He initially envisioned a photo book based on OutKast’s Aquemini. But as he immersed himself in the culture, he decided instead to look back by looking forward.

“So we found kids who were the same age as André and Big Boi were when they were first making records,” Schmelling recalls in the book. “There were a thousand YouTube videos of kids dancing in their living rooms, beats and songs were being made on PCs and uploaded to SoundClick or SpitYoGame. Something new was happening. And something new kept happening.”

Sanneh puts things into historical perspective, describing how Atlanta replaced New York City as the hip-hop capital “by default – the place where you could hear the next hit first, the place where kids and grown folks alike still seemed excited about hip-hop, the place where you could get the best mixtapes” and taking readers inside its many subgenres.

André 3000 acknowledges the shift in a rare interview, conducted by Welch: “If you look at what was goin’ on at the time, we came out with Nas. We came out with Biggie. We came out with WuTang. As far as rhyming and being from the South? We couldn’t mess around. All of our contemporaries made us better. Nowadays, the competition for a lot of the kids in the South is just their neighborhood.”

Atlanta – and its accompanying download mixtape – takes us inside those neighborhoods, capturing a culture that’s always in transition. “The story of Atlanta hip-hop is whatever is happening right now,” says Schmelling. “A year in Atlanta hip-hop is like five years in any other genre.”

The book is available for pre-order by clicking on the publisher, Chronicle Books.