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Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein

Gone Where the Woodbine Twineth

Quantum theory has some strange implications, one of which is the existence of parallel universes.* If physical reality does bifurcate at every quantum event, creating an infinite number of alternative realities, what happens to consciousness? Does it split as well, implying that twin minds exist in parallel but isolated states? Or does consciousness continue on a single trajectory, thus maintaining the presumed uniqueness of the individual personality? Could consciousness migrate from one trajectory to another, inhabiting perhaps several alternative worlds, or bodies, in the course of its existence? And what are the moral responsibilities of a conscious mind which finds itself in radically different social environments? These questions are important, especially if you are Heinlein’s protagonist Alex, a priggish, religious fundamentalist and racist but who still possesses enough nineteenth century pluck and grit to confront cosmic uncertainty head on.

Or rather these would be important issues if Alex the fundamentalist had the leisure to ponder them. As it is, mostly he has enough trouble surviving from day to day. The experience of being thrust from one version of reality to another is a fact that a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture just doesn’t cover. Not unless the Christian God is as playfully sadistic as he is reportedly bloodthirsty. Perhaps the old Norse Loki, the pesky divine practical joker, is actually behind such apparent irrationality. This is the god of changing rules; just when you think you know the way the world works from a moral perspective, Loki pulls the rug out.

But wait, scripture does cover even this. The story of Job in the Old Testament does, after all, describe a Loki-like Yahweh who thinks it a fine thing to move the moral goal posts as well as physical laws of his creation on a whim... or a wager. “Yahweh rolls loaded dice with His universe... to deceive His creatures,” according to Heinlein’s most reliable celestial authority, Rahab the biblical whore of Canaan. Even the material uncertainty of bifurcating quantum universes is then multiplied by the moral uncertainty that a Loki/Jehova suspends or even directs quantum effects willy nilly depending on his mood and latest conversation - a bit like an omnipotent Donald Trump, for example. This theological explanation accounts for much more than the contradictory results of quantum science. Who could expect an omnipotent deity to be constrained to maintaining the consistency of physical or moral laws? If God did not demonstrate his arbitrariness from time to time how would we, or he, know he was God?

The ultimate divine lark is the long awaited Apocalypse, the Last Trump (the pun unintended by Heinlein of course), the End of Days. Turns out it’s a bureaucratic fiasco that should have been organised by Disney World rather than the archangels Gabriel and Michael. Archangels don’t know nothin’ ‘bout human needs like plumbing and sanitary facilities. As Alex realises, “A saved soul in Heaven occupies much the position of a blackamoor in Arkansas. And its the angels who really rub your nose in it. I never met an angel I liked.” The last thing the resident angels want is a horde of wet back migrant human beings creating disorder in the heavenly precincts. So the Saved only get to ride in the back of the bus in the Divine Transportation System. Bit of a let down really, suggesting less than a strong ethic of biblical Truth In Advertising.

Quite apart from the smug hostility of the natives, Heaven is a bust: no industry, so nothing creative or interesting to do; no horticulture, so no natural beauty or development; and no public libraries at all, so no intellectual stimulation. And to top it off, the others who have been saved - like for instance former wives - are not people you like to spend dinner with much less eternity. The Christian idea of the Holy Trinity, it turns out, is absolutely true. But its real function is simply to provide an audience for the Divine Jokester, a sort of in-house mutual appreciation society or Magic Circle which lives to laugh, mostly at the consternation they can cause among human beings.

It’s all a scam of course, Heaven, that is. The Other Place is where you want to be: A rather nice planet with “No snakes. No cockroaches. No chiggers. No poison ivy. No tax collectors. No rats. No cancer. No preachers. Only two lawyers.” And the people you’d much rather be with. They even take American Express. The whole divine justice thing is the ultimate switcheroo, therefore. What japes! The basic motive force of the universe revealed: divine high spirits. No wonder we’re all confused, as Alex says, “On reflection. I realized that I was in exactly the same predicament as every other human being alive: We dont know who we are, or where we came from, or why we are here. My dilemma was merely fresher, not different.” And no wonder that many of us feel put upon because of, “The delusion that the whole world is a conspiracy. Only its not a delusion.” As Alex concludes, “Paranoia is the only rational approach to a conspiracy world.”

So next time you get irritated with the obstinate stupidity of a believer, just remember that they’re suffering too. Theology may provide a more coherent theory than quantum mechanics. But belief in infinite and arbitrary divine power comes at a price: profound fear of its arbitrary exercise (“Thy will be done...”). As Alex finally realizes, “A man who is happy at home doesnt lie awake nights worrying about the hereafter.”

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Published 21.07.2019

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They hire too many employees at one time, and cut back on all the senior employees hours, without explaining why. We are supposed to have seniority for a set amount of hours per week, but they keep screwing us around. No communication throughout the head office and also to the rest of the employees. Put more value on your great employees, or you will keep losing amazing workers, who once loved their jobs. Also no one maintains or cleans the break room or staff bathrooms.

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New Westminster, B. The new agreement significantly strengthens Quarterly Review language by limiting the number of existing stores that can be put under review to a maximum of five existing stores in , , and , with no existing stores being placed under Quarterly Review in or This means long-term job security improvements, in addition to maintaining wages and benefits for members. Combination of lump sum payments and off-scale wage increases for top rate Grid A and non-Grid A employees;. Vacation bridging for Grid A employees who have had breaks in service for years, where such employees dropped below hours worked;. All non-Grid A employees to move to one wage scale with an improved top rate and all non-Grid A employees receive a wage increase after ratification;. Salaried Key Personnel will be paid out hours worked above 40 hours per week if they are not provided the lieu time within the month;.

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