The Fulfillment Center

November 25, 2042

Amazon’s Houston fulfillment center, opened more than 20 years ago, continues to attract vagrants in search of water, food, and shelter. (Photo/Omar Martinez)

HOUSTON — It’s a bright, balmy November morning, and a light breeze is wafting in the humid air. A shrill siren blares, followed by the metal scraping of six shed doors lifting open, as Amazon’s Volunteer Labor Force exits, ready for work. The laborers, without any external direction, split into groups and begin working their assigned tasks—some begin loading and unloading delivery trucks, others pick and package orders, some retrieve cleaning supplies and begin the daunting task of mopping the warehouse’s 1.5 million square feet of floor space, while more still pile into autonomous electric vehicles, to be given work at some distant part of the facility. The laborers are intently focused, working efficiently and speaking only to share information relevant to their current task. They are not glassy-eyed, but appear not to notice each other as they walk single-file to their daily duties. Social interaction is rare here, to the extent that a row of workers, spending an entire 12-hour shift standing next to each other, will not share a word of small talk or pleasantries between them. The volunteers of Amazon’s Houston fulfillment center may look like slaves, but they are among the happiest people on earth.

The Houston facility is unique, as it is the first Amazon fulfillment center to be staffed entirely by volunteer laborers—a trend set to continue, according to company sources. Amazon’s Volunteer Labor Program, started in 2038, offers food, clothing, and on-site residence to volunteer workers who agree to undergo the Axiom procedure. The Houston facility’s workforce is comprised of 1,900 volunteers, representing laborers of all ages (above 16), races, and nationalities—a tribute to the ever-increasing popularity of volunteer work since the program’s inception. In this building, a 67-year-old woman from Nova Scotia spends her entire 12-hour shift assembling cardboard boxes beside a Black teenage boy from Baltimore, with the two never uttering a single word to each other. Despite the crowded isolation found within the warehouse, both workers will end the day with a sense of deep satisfaction.

This is where the Axiom implant—the program’s most crucial (and controversial) component—comes into play. Embedded in a volunteer’s brain, the implant stimulates the amygdala, frontal cortex, and insula throughout the work day, creating a deep sense of satisfaction as the laborer toils away. According to the implant’s designers, the emotional experience is equivalent to that of a person accomplishing their life’s work, or a monk who has spent decades meditating to achieve enlightenment. The Axiom implant promises to recreate emotional experience of a life well-lived—but how does this artificial fulfillment compare to the real thing?

“There’s no meaningful difference,” said Travis Herd, senior engineer at Axiom. “Let’s say your passion is writing, so you work on that your whole life—you spend decades practicing, you go to school, study your craft, work your way up from being an unknown proofreader or copy editor. Maybe you make the right connections—maybe you get something published, and maybe it turns out to be a hit. Maybe someday, if you’re talented enough, lucky enough, and you’ve put in enough work, you win some major award like a Pulitzer Prize. You know what happens then? Your brain releases the exact same sequence of chemicals that our volunteers experience on a daily basis. The only real difference is that you will eventually grow bored of the novelty of winning a Pulitzer Prize, whereas our workers will never grow tired of their jobs.”

First developed in 2032, Amazon’s Axiom implant was not available for public use until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was dissolved in 2037. Since then, thousands of volunteers have signed up for the procedure, with all of them highly recommending it.

“Amazon has given an incredible gift to the world,” said Gene Mendez, a 22-year-old volunteer. “Before I came here, I was on the verge of suicide. I felt totally lost, I had no direction, no future, and no one left to turn to. But now I know my place, and my purpose, and it is perfection. It’s really a win-win situation.”

“After I lost my two boys in a car crash, I thought I would never be able to feel happiness again,” said Janet Olson, a 46-year-old volunteer. “But now I can say that volunteering for Amazon has been an incredibly empowering experience, and even more rewarding than motherhood.”

According to volunteers, the only downside of the program is the social stigma surrounding it, with many on social media branding the laborers as “Amazombies.” Indeed, many are skeptical towards Amazon’s claim that the Axiom procedure does nothing to alter a person’s personality—a claim that volunteers are quick to defend.

“Look at me—I’m not brainwashed, I’m not a zombie, I’m just like anyone else,” said James Crawford, a 47-year-old volunteer. “I just love my job, that’s all.”

“Sure, I was pretty nervous about it at first,” said Nadine Coley, a 19-year-old volunteer. “I didn’t even really want to do it, but after my parents kicked me out, I didn’t have much choice. That was a dark time in my life—I was living on the street, I never felt safe, and I woke up every day not knowing if it would be my last. But now? I’m safe, I’m happy, and I wake up every morning laughing, because I get to go to work.”

“I was in prison, some guys took me out of my cell and said I could have a reduced sentence if I got this Axiom surgery,” said Josè Burgess, a volunteer on a special work release program. “At first I was like, ‘What? You want me to put a computer chip in my head?’ But, you know, it beat a 45-year stint.” At this point Burgess laughed, and said with a beaming smile, “Those guys were chumps! They’re acting like I’m doing them a favor—I would’ve paid anything to feel this way every day.”

According to the company’s latest financial statement, volunteer laborers now make up 64% of Amazon’s workforce, compared to just 45% in 2041. This figure is set to grow, with company heads projecting that at least 95% of Amazon’s unskilled labor will come from volunteer workers by the end of the decade.

“The Axiom implant is a revolutionary technology with high potential to reduce labor costs across all industries,” said Preston Bezos, CEO of Amazon in a recent public announcement. “We are in talks with several major brands to license the technology, and spread the volunteer work revolution across the globe.”

Is Amazon making the world a better place? The future the company promises will be one where no one is unhappy, no one questions their place in the world, there is no hint of dissatisfaction or discomfort, and everyone will end the day as contentedly as someone who has achieved their every goal in life. It may even be a world without conflict and war—we’d have no need of nations, only contended shareholders and the volunteers who work for them. The Axiom implant may well be the end of history, and that may well be a good thing. As Axiom engineer Travis Herd put it, “This may not look like utopia, but it sure as hell feels like it.”

This author cannot come to a conclusion on the betterment of humanity in relation to the grounding of its collective creative output. This author can hardly tell the difference between right and wrong anymore. All this author knows is that he is sick of being a poor hack in competition with AI, that he has volunteered for the labor program himself, and that his implant will be installed this Friday. Until then, he will sit back, blast Pink Floyd, and smoke his nights away.


Election 2022: Youth voters made the difference

Written November 7, 2022

Updated December 16, 2022

Young voters show support for progressive legislation (Photo/Tim Pierce)

This November, Americans voted on an election that will shape the next two years of American politics. Every seat in the House of Representatives was up for grabs, as well as 35 out of 50 seats in the Senate. Most polls showed that Republicans were heavily favored to win the House, and slightly favored to win the Senate. Such a power shift would’ve meant a halt to all Democratic legislation, a refusal to confirm any federal judges, and further weaponizing of the debt ceiling—the same tactic that forced Obama to make $2.1 trillion dollars’ worth of concessions in 2011. However, despite predictions of a ‘red wave,’ Republicans lost the Senate and only eked out a small majority in the House. This shift is partially attributed to a higher-than-usual turnout of youth voters, indicating a looming threat to the current GOP.

For young people, the election had many far-reaching implications, including the hotly debated topic of student debt cancellation. President Joe Biden’s executive order, which is already imperiled by the courts, would almost certainly be killed by a Republican legislature. For many, this election meant the difference between getting a chance to start their lives proper—being freed up to afford a mortgage, children, or retirement savings—and being saddled with debt for the next chunk of their lives.

Outside of debt, students had good reason to consider what their futures would look like after this election. With many GOP members touting the “Big Lie” of a stolen election, voting rights themselves have been under fire, as many sought to discredit and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Alongside this, the Republican House will likely dissolve the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack, stunting any consequences for the political attack that shook the nation. This volatile combination of condoning insurrection, stripping away voting rights, and casting doubt on the democratic process may have galvanized voters who were otherwise neutral—high-profile election deniers such as Kari Lake, Tim Michels, and Doug Mastriano all faced electoral defeats, indicating pushback against anti-democratic rhetoric.

Above all this, there is one issue that has young voters up in arms more than any other. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the bodily autonomy of millions of Americans has been brought into question. For young women in conservative states, access to reproductive healthcare has been jeopardized, leading to dangerous ectopic pregnancies, forced births, and children as young as 10 being pressured to carry to term. Many have made it clear that they refuse to return to the era of dangerous “back-alley” abortions—an attitude that may have carried the election.

“Exit polls indicate that a large number of young voters are concerned about abortion and abortion rights, likely as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Edward Hunt, assistant professor of political science at Regis College. “The Tisch College of Civic Life, which tracks young voters, described the election as ‘the abortion election.’”

Historically, young people have been least likely to vote in elections, with only 50% of 18 to 29-year-old voters turning out in 2020, according to a Tufts University study. As Regis College senior H.E. said, “A lot of people our age have really strong opinions and really great voices, but, when it comes to actually making it to the polls, sometimes that’s where we fall a little bit short.”

At Regis College, responses from students were mixed—some indicated a desire to vote, but couldn’t find the time: “I do care but I’m just pretty busy,” said sophomore J.G. “It’s a time thing, but I want to,” echoed senior Z.L.

“There’s an election tomorrow? What for?” asked a few passersby.

Despite some lukewarm responses, many other students were excited to have their voices heard. Where one said, “I didn’t think about it, honestly,” another said, “Everyone needs to be informed for democracy to work. Get up and vote!”

Among those who voted, there was increased encouragement for other students to visit the polls. “You should definitely vote because it’s like your voice is being heard,” said sophomore L.D. “They should vote, and vote for what they believe in,” said freshman T.C.

The effect of these passionate youth voters can be seen in key races across the country, particularly for John Fetterman, Raphael Warnock, and Tony Evers. “Progressive candidates do better when young people turn out to vote in larger numbers,” said Hunt. “Young voters were pivotal in key elections in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.”

Whether the increase in youth voters is the beginning of a larger trend remains to be seen—as Hunt said, the 2022 election is “both an outlier and a trend.” In one sense, the high youth turnout may be seen as an unusual outlier, being the second highest for a midterm election in the past thirty years. However, as Hunt pointed out, “we are seeing young people becoming increasingly involved in elections.” Rather than being an outlier, this election may be an indication of broader political activism from young people.

If the results of the 2022 election demonstrate anything, it’s the fact that youth voters really can make a difference—the more student voters see their own influence, the more galvanized they may be to vote in the future.

“Everyone’s vote really matters when it all comes down to it. Everyone’s part of a statistic,” said Z.L.

Anyone still skeptical may consider those who are disenfranchised—the ones who need a win the most.

“Even if there’s not an issue that you care about for you specifically, think of all the people who don’t have a voice right now,” said H.E. “Use your vote to give them a voice.”


The Million-dollar Ape: What are NFTs and why are they so controversial?

Written February 13, 2022

Updated December 16, 2022

Bored Ape #3749 sold for the equivalent of $2.9 million in cryptocurrency. (Photo/

We’ve all seen the headlines: an NFT of a smiling ape has sold for millions, the subjects of classic memes have sold their photos for hundreds of thousands, and digital artists have cashed in in the hopes of making it big. Celebrities the likes of Snoop Dogg, Ozzy Osbourne, and Serena Williams have jumped into the craze—even ringtone extraordinaire Crazy Frog has his own NFT in the works. With the growing hype, millions of dollars, and growing debate surrounding the technology, you may find yourself wondering, what is an NFT?

An NFT (or non-fungible token) is a unique piece of data stored on a blockchain, which can be thought of as a list of records. Platforms such as Ethereum maintain these records, allowing for the creation and trading of tokens between users. NFTs are generally purchased using cryptocurrency, which is an unregulated, digital alternative to traditional currency. While any kind of digital data can be used to create a unique token, the most popular use of the technology has been in trading digital artwork.

Tokenized trading is unique compared to the traditional sale of art—according to NFT proponents, the technology allows for the collection of royalties and ease of access to the market for artists, and allows collectors an added degree of security and a convenient network to hold and sell their artwork. Additionally, an NFT can be seen as an appreciating asset, something purchased as a future investment. According to Johnathan Mann, creator of the ‘Song A Day’ NFT collection, “The royalties on all secondary sales has become a fundamental part of what makes NFTs attractive to artists of all kinds. If you can find the audience willing to support you, it becomes the kind of passive income artists have only ever dreamed of.”

Indeed, some artists have benefitted greatly from selling their artwork as NFTs. Photographer Dave Krugman, based in New York, has minted several of his original photographs as tokens, and has auctioned them for the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars. In a Whitehot Magazine interview with Mariepet Mangosing, Krugman expressed his view of NFTs as the future of art trading. “The fact that we have resale royalties built into the smart contracts is a profound change,” he said. “We’re seeing artists profit from their output within their own lifetimes, and we’re living through the greatest transfer of wealth into the creative class in human history.”

However, not all share Krugman’s optimistic view of NFTs. One of the biggest controversies surrounding the technology has been its carbon footprint, as the creation and maintenance of tokens on a blockchain uses large amounts of electricity. As Hiroko Tabuchi stated in a New York Times article, the creation of an average NFT creates “over 200 kilograms of planet-warming carbon, equivalent to driving 500 miles in a typical American gasoline-powered car.”

These concerns have not been lost on students—graduate student Wolfy, who has a master’s in Biodiversity and Conservation and is pursuing a joint master’s in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems at the University of Leeds, is particularly concerned about NFTs’ impact on climate change.

“We are currently in a climate emergency, and the need of the hour is to invest in mitigating the damage we have already done over the years,” said Wolfy. “NFTs, and the crypto affair as a whole, seem to be the most ridiculous way of doing the exact opposite. Unlike other energy expensive activities like transport and agriculture, which can be considered necessities to some extent, NFTs seem much more irrelevant and easily avoidable. The growing popularity of NFTs is therefore almost an intentional choice to further harm the planet, a choice that more people seem to be taking everyday”

Another snag: a non-fungible asset is also non-tangible. Not everyone is convinced that a digital token can represent meaningful ownership of an image, leading some to think of the growing market as a scam. Indeed, some unscrupulous traders have even tokenized other people’s artwork without permission, profiting from the sale with no benefit to the original artist. “Their claim about ‘protecting artists’ is pretty transparently false,” says Northern Irish pre-law student Clubs. “It’s just a pyramid scheme aimed at people who had no interest in essential oils.”

Additionally, the blockchain may not be as robust as once thought. The once-popular cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which held millions of dollars’ worth of NFTs, has since declared bankruptcy. With the company undergoing restructuring, all NFTs minted on the FTX exchange now redirect to a generic page. This loss reveals the fragile nature of digital assets, as the blockchain must be actively maintained for ownership to be upheld. As the FTX bankruptcy demonstrates, anyone buying an NFT is putting immense trust in the blockchain that records the trade.

Ultimately, the unregulated nature of NFTs and cryptocurrency leaves little room for oversight, with the potential for fraud just as great as the potential for artists to strike it rich. Environmental concerns raise serious questions over the sustainability of NFTs, with students and climate professionals raising the alarm over their growing popularity. Despite their booming success, NFTs still have a lot to prove regarding their sustained use in the future—a question which only time can answer.

“I think the jury is still out on this,” said Christopher Kubik, Professor of Finance and Accounting at Regis College. “I think more finance professionals see value in crypto and NFTs, but there are still significant numbers who believe there is little to no value. I tend to side with the latter group.”

Says Wolfy, “By the time we’re done fighting over accurately quantifying an NFT’s environmental impact and finding the mythical ‘sustainable’ NFT, it’ll already be too late.”


Introducing Hemetera: Your Life, Our Story

“In 1946 a ‘doughty seedling poked its vigorous head’ into the Regis College Community with the emergence of the new literary magazine Hemetera, meaning ‘Our Own’ in Greek. The magazine was founded as an opportunity to spotlight the creative talents of the student body. Published annually by the students of Regis College, the magazine welcomes submissions of poetry, prose, artwork, and photography”


This brief description has appeared in at least twelve editions of the literary journal Hemetera, appearing as early as the 2007 edition and being included in every edition up to 2018. It is an accurate description of the publication, which is edited and contributed to by Regis College students. However, despite being “our own” publication at Regis, many editions are not easily accessible by students; old editions of the publication are stored at the Regis Archives, but these copies are non-circulating and require special permission to access. Today, the seventy-five year history of the publication is unknown to many students, resulting in a large gap in the school’s literary history.

That’s why we’re proud to announce Hemetera: Your Life, Our Story, a Digital Humanities project created by Jacob Pardo and Katherine Colglazier. This project seeks to digitize and transcribe the entire history of Hemetera, making old editions of the publication far more accessible to the student body. As well as contributing to Regis’s history, this project will aid further research by providing a source of transcribed literature, making future text analysis of the journal possible.

The initial version of the project contains 14 editions of the publication, ranging from 2007 to 2020. These editions were borrowed with special permission from the University Archivist Justyna Szulc-Maziarz, and scanned manually using a flatbed scanner (with the exception of the 2020 edition, for which we had access to the digital master). The scanned images were collated and converted into easily readable PDFs. With the help of Jonathan Fitzgerald (Hemetera’s faculty advisor), these editions underwent optical character recognition and now contain embedded digital text. These documents were then uploaded to an Omeka-based website, where the documents and digital text can be browsed and downloaded.

The data exists as multiple scanned images

Currently, our data exists in the form of the fourteen transcribed editions of Hemetera hosted on the Omeka site. The available texts will help to aid future analysis, such as that planned by Katherine Colglazier. In the future, we hope to include even more of the publication’s history, going back seventy-five years to the initial 1946 edition. However, even with only fourteen years available, there are interesting discoveries to be made. For example, I was not aware of the “doughty seedling” description before starting this project, despite it being included in the publication for over ten years. Additionally, there would have been no way to know that the 2008 edition is the only one to have evenly-numbered pages to the right, at least out of the fourteen editions that are available. Based on these findings, the historical value of the publication, and the accessibility afforded by the project, it is clear that this archival work is important and needs to be continued. Remember to watch for future updates, and please enjoy the editions which are currently hosted! You can find the project here.

You can read the full project proposal here:


Bananas (2020)

A practice sketch I made in July 2020. I’m happy with how it turned out!


The Cracked Seed

Once upon a time, in the long ago when tall creatures walked in herds among the earth, a small seed fell from his mother tree and landed upon the ground. Before he could take root, he was trampled underfoot, and left cracked where he landed. Although he was small, and although he was left cracked in the footprint of a giant, the seed knew that he could one day grow tall, taller than the creature that had so carelessly stomped on him, and taller even than his mother tree. He knew he would, because he knew he could.

Mustering up all his strength, the cracked seed took root — he buried himself in the soil, sipping up some refreshing water and cozying up against the roots of his mother tree. In a matter of weeks, the cracked seed grew up into the small seedling. Although he was small, and although he was not nearly as tall as the stomping creatures, he stood proudly, knowing that he would one day tower over all the forest.

But life was not so simple for the short seedling; when he was only a few weeks old, the clouds blotted out the sky, and it began to rain. A welcome sign, he thought, as water was the source of life, and the more he drank, the taller he would grow. But the rain did not stop, it kept on for many days and many nights until it flowed past him in rivers, and the soil began to lift up, threatening to leave hold of his roots. But the short sapling held on tightly, grasping onto the roots of his mother tree, knowing that one day the rain would stop, and he could grow taller than the cleansing streams. One day, he dreamed, he would grow taller even than the clouds.

When the clouds gave way to the sunlight and all the puddles had dried up, the seedling was once again free to grow. In a manner of months, the small seedling grew into a proud sapling. Although he was not yet a tree, he reveled in how much he had grown, and in how the ground he had once been so close to was inching ever farther away. But growth was only just beginning for the small sapling, and he was not yet free from the dangers of the earth. As the months went by, it seemed that rain was becoming rarer and rarer, and the sapling rejoiced, eager to soak up the sunshine and wary of the rivers which threatened to wash him away. But, the longer the sun stared down at the sapling, the dryer he began to feel. It was not long before he shriveled up in want of water, and the ground around him began to crack and split like hard clay. The sapling thirsted, shriveling up in the hot sun, but still clung to the earth, knowing that he would one day be allowed to taste water again.

It was then that the sapling was caught by surprise — his mother tree began to pass on what was left of her moisture to him through her roots. The sapling felt sad, as he knew she needed the water as much as he did, but was still relieved not to suffer so much in the hot sun. Eventually, after months of waiting, the sky gave way to clouds, and the rain fell again.

Once he had perked up again with water, and once he felt that his mother tree was also drinking her share, the sapling was once again free to grow. In a matter of years, the sapling grew and grew, until eventually he became a tree. And the tree grew and grew, until one day he was half the height of his mother tree. Although he was not the tallest in the forest, he still rejoiced, as he had outgrown the careless creatures who had trampled him all those years ago. The tree knew that he would continue to grow, taller than his mother tree, taller than the clouds, and one day, he dreamed, taller than the sky. He was already too tall to get trampled, too rooted to be washed away, and big enough to hold water through the summer.

But the perils of the earth would not be outgrown so easily. Although he did not know what had started it, and although he did not know what to do about it, the tree recognized the feeling of fire. He could feel the pain of the forest around him, he could sense the smoke of his fallen siblings, and, as he grasped his mother tree in fear, he once again felt as vulnerable as a little cracked seed. But his mother tree was not afraid — even as she fell, she knew that she would block the path of the flames, sparing her little tree.

After the flames had died, and the rain had washed away the ash, the tree stood lonely in the forest. Although he was sad, he knew that he would one day sew seeds of his own, and that he could one day spare another sapling’s life.

Now the tallest tree in his vicinity, the tree was left free to grow. And in a manner of decades, he grew tall — taller than the creatures who had stomped him, taller than the puddles, taller than his mother tree and even taller than the clouds. The tall tree stood proudly in the forest, thinking of being cracked, of being nearly drowned, of facing the first dry summer, of the sacrifices made to allow him to grow, and he felt happy. He had grown up strong because he knew he could, and he knew that one day, his saplings would grow strong too. The tree knew that he could accomplish anything, and began to reach toward the sky.

And then he got cut down to build a parking lot, the end.