Burning Rousseau In Effigy

Despite strident denials there are large numbers of people who are Marxists without knowing they are Marxists.  In fact, it is because they’ve never read Marx or studied economics that they’re not aware of how much of their world-view is Marxist.  Well, that and because the Marxists took advantage of mass-media, mass-education and mass-entertainment to pound into their heads a uniform Marxist message that became what “Everybody knows.”

Yes, I imagine for some of them it is shocking to find themselves called Marxist when they’re just signaling they’re educated and have all the right thoughts by repeating everything their teachers told them was the “right” (left) way to think.  But let’s not forget the number of them who (not here, of course) also defend “Marxist” everything from economics to literary analysis as the best thing evah.  (And call us ignorant because we don’t like ideologies that killed a hundred million people, even though their professors ASSURED them that it’s never really been tried.)

However, as annoying as they are, they are not nearly as deluded as the children of Rousseau who have never read Rousseau and might not even know he existed.

But every possible portion of the media-industrial complex has blared at them a combined sense that Nature is always better and that one should go back to the simple ol’ days.  (BTW it’s amazing how many of these people are vileprogs, who keep telling us we can’t go back to taking the bill of rights seriously becaus e”times have changed”.)

I’ll forgive those of you who are devotees of camping.  I do sort of understand that most of you grew up with indoor bathrooms, warm water on demand, refrigerators, and enjoy camping as a break from modern life, simpler but not too scary.  So, rest easy.  I won’t even blame that on Rousseau.

No, what I want to blame on Rousseau or at least his misguided grandchildren, are the mother and daughter who sat next to us on Tuesday while we waiting for a table for burgers.  You see, I was writing late, and we needed food, and I didn’t feel like having leftover turkey.

Unfortunately, apparently, everyone had a rush to Red Robin at the same time.  (Okay, possibly it was the local buy one get one free special.  What can I say?  We’re cheap.)

So we were sitting there, and there’s a family with elementary schoolers right next to me, and the little girl is babbling about a project she did for school and how she wrote about the downside of technology.  Stuff like how people now just spend time talking on their cellphones, instead of connecting to each other.  And how they only talk to each other through the computer, instead of going out.

I excused this.  (I know, I know, how magnanimous of me.)  She was maybe 10, and you know, that’s the stuff they teach them in school (which is the point.)

BUT…. but then her mother chimed in.  She started talking about how much better life was without the internet.  How people wrote letters and visited family.

This was the point at which I decided I had a terrible need to go to the door and look at the snow outside.  Because it wasn’t this woman’s fault.  It’s what she heard starting when she was her daughter’s age or less.

I even understand it.  I understand the “nostalgia for simpler times”, something that has affected the super-wealthy forever.  And our society IS super wealthy.

So, in defense of the internet:

Yeah, we no longer write letters.  I’m cool with that.  Why should I hanker for the long lines at the post office.  Not to mention that when I wrote letters, I wrote super-long letters and it cost me a lot of money.

Nowadays I keep in touch with several friends via email, and via phone texting, too. I keep in touch with them regardless of where they are, and they get my messages instantly.

Then there is instant messenger, various forms of, which allow me to have very close friends who live halfway across the world.  And then there are ebooks, blogs, the ability to reach the reading public without having to go through the gatekeepers of the industrial-news-entertainment complex.

I remember when just talking to other writers was a difficult thing, particularly writers at my level, when I started getting published.

Beyond all that, and regardless of what one thinks of just-in-time technologies and others, and beyond the world of communication online, the internet, internet shopping and internet ordering has made it possible to cater to individual necessities, not just the average.

Take my older son.  Depending on how the shoes are shaped, he wears either 15 EEE or 17 EEE.  His feet grew to that size at 13.  The city we lived in didn’t have any stores which carried that size, or at least not regularly.  So finding shoes for him meant a trip to Denver and even then it was uncertain.

Now?  Well, I order from Amazon, because it’s convenient. But failing that I could order from a hundred places on line.  The thing is, people are making these shoes, and we are buying them.  Oh, and they’re cheaper than they were in the “good old days.”

And in defense of modern days, if I must make one:

Rousseau might have thought we’d have been happier naked and eating whatever grew naturally around us, but I can tell you, even though we were relatively well off for the village, life was not exactly fun in unheated houses, where electricity was sporadic, and where everything you do in life took a lot of work.

Most people lived worse off than us and lived on the edge of survival.

I like living in a house that’s heated, where I turn on the switch and the light comes on, where I have a working refrigerator, hot and cold water and (this is very important) plumbing so we don’t have to use a guzzunder and the house doesn’t smell.

Other things I like, in random order and not limited: aspirin, anti histamines, antibiotics, comfortable shoes, comfortable clothes, an embarrassing choice of entertainment from books to movies to music.  I can go 100 miles whenever we feel like it AND we don’t have to take the whole day to do it.  Oh, yeah, and if we need to go across the world, we take a plane, instead of a steam ship that takes weeks.

We can fly through the air, we live healthy lives a very long time, longer than our ancestors dreamed of, and we live lives even kings couldn’t dream of 100 years ago.  The world is our oyster.  And possibly our clam and our mussel too.

But all the children of Rousseau can say is that “Things were better before.”  I.e. in the days they never experienced; in the days when they would be either dead or servants, according to predominant likelihood.

So, let’s burn Rousseau in effigy and enjoy what we have.

 

 

769 responses to “Burning Rousseau In Effigy

  1. sanfordbegley

    And anyone who waxes nostalgic over the simple farm life never had to go out at 2:00 AM during the worst storm of the year to get the cattle in. Nor did they have to walk the fields picking rocks or a thousand other thankless,backbreaking, never ending chores

    • Those jobs don’t happen. just ask the maronies who spout this off. Well, if they do think those jobs happen, they will certainly only happen to those other people, you know, not them, because they will certainly be important and not have to do them.

    • Or had the fire not light because the high winds with the previous night’s snow blew the tarp off the woodpile, and spent half the night trying to get and keep the fire lit so that the pipes don’t freeze.

      • THIS. In these circumstances, my cousin Natalia decided to use a little bit of gas to light the wood. We called her “no eyebrows” for months.

      • Using a coal-wood stove that wouldn’t draw the smoke out of the house because the wind was blowing down the pipe. *sigh The house filled with smoke and in freezing weather you had to open all the windows or doors … because of carbon monoxide.

        • Yup. We all knew to crack the door nearest the fireplace (a heatilator) for a few minutes until the chimney got warm enough for the smoke to rise and counteract the wind…

      • Splitting wet wood hoping to have dry wood in the center.

        • After all, if they “end global warming” it’s going to get cold 😉

        • 😀 Trying to make a fire when all you have for potential firewood is a few bushes of dwarf birch, and it’s raining.

          Didn’t work, btw, all we managed was some smoke. But it was cold, and something to do while we waited for the float plane to come to take us back to civilization for some R&R, and more supplies. I was working as a seasonal assistant for Finnish Geological Survey, we were doing geological mapping in Lapland. And camping out in the wild can be fun if it’s for the weekend or maybe a week or two, way less so when you do it for three months well north of the arctic circle. No showers there. I remember those summers mostly fondly, but I was quite miserable at times during them. Besides, we had access to civilization. I’m not sure I want to imagine what it might have been like when there was none. And no showers ever… I can assure that taking a bath in freezing cold lake is not exactly enjoyable either (but I hated feeling dirty even more).

          • Come to think of it, I suppose those Lapland summers and the summers I spend in my uncle’s farm as a child – which had kind of frozen in time during the late 40’s or so, he never got married and no kid to inherit, he had stopped improving things a long time ago so it was kind of primitive too, heating and cooking with wood, outhouse and sauna, entertainment was mostly magazines, loads of old one save starting from the 30’s (a lot of fun for me, that part, btw…) – well, anyway, those experiences are probably what made me tolerate the apartment with no shower or hot running water for 16 years. I think I was the longest renter in that place for years, otherwise it was pretty much revolving door thing for the renters (the house had four other similar apartments besides mine), they’d move in and then move out after a year or two, sometimes after a few months. The big reason why the landlord kept getting new ones, and why I stayed: ridiculously low rents.

    • There are reasons I am highly reluctant to have even chickens on our acreage. The Trees and garden are going to be enough work thank you very much! At least they don’t run away.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        I garden like mad and have Plans for an herbal garden and/or chickens this year. Because I have the time and inclination, and also because I am a foodie. But I am very, very grateful for the supermarket 5 miles away, so I can enjoy all of the above without worrying about how to feed my family if the garden/chickens go splat.

        • We’ve got a pile of apple trees and chestnut trees on order and are planning on planting a garden this spring. But we’ve got a small-town grocery 7 miles away and major stories 30-40 miles away, for which I’m very grateful. If we loose the trees and the garden it’s an ‘oh well figure out what went wrong and try again’ not ‘how are we going to make it through the winter?’

          • SheSellsSeashells

            Exactly! I wasn’t panicking when the cankerworms got our peach and cherry saplings and 2/3 of Lazarus the Apple Tree or when the deer found the tomatoes (dogs get free range THIS summer), just deeply, deeply annoyed.

            As it is, my main takeaway from Starter Garden last summer was mostly along the lines of “How many MORE purple tomatoes can I plant next year?” Because daaaaaaayum, they were tasty. 🙂

        • If your garden bears well (last year our tomatoes and peppers bore outrageously), you also have a lot of work to do putting your produce up for later use. If you refuse to use new-fangled technology like freezing, you need to do some serious canning, which is both labor and fuel-intensive.

          • Free-range Oyster

            And tedious. Don’t forget tedious.

          • Feather Blade

            My aunt figured out how to can small batches without the water bath. It works with peaches, and I’ve tried it with chicken stock (… haven’t tried to use the chicken stock yet, so YMMV),

            You fill and cap the jars as normal then put them on a tray in your oven at 245 F for… 30 minutes or so?

            It does the heat sealing thing that water bath canning does, but at a higher temp and without the water.

            • Did she have any broken jars from the heat differential between inside and outside of the jar? I’ve literally had a glass dish (which I thought was Pyrex but turned out not to be) crack down the middle from being heated in an oven (thankfully the food didn’t spill through the crack and burn on the oven’s heating element). So as you start to reach higher temps, I start to wonder about the glass.

              • And when I say “crack down the middle”, I mean that the crack went all the way through, and separated the glass dish into two halves.

              • We had a candle in glass (store brand) crack and drip wax all over our fireplace.

              • Pyrex brand is no longer the heat resistant borosilicate glass that made them famous.

                • Yeah, Corning sold the trademark a few years ago. The new stuff seems okay, as far as I can tell.

                  • Odd that somebody would purchase a well-established brand identity and immediately gut the qualities which constitute the brand.

                    That is almost as insane as claiming you love your country and if elected will immediately attempt to transform it so that it is more like other (less successful) countries.

                    • The latter isn’t particularly insane if you understand what he actually meant. He didn’t mean that he loved this country as it is, he meant that he loved it as it could be once he was done transforming it into his vision of what it should be.

                      Thankfully, he never realized how hard it is for any one man person to fundamentally transform this country. Unfortunately, he’s been able to accomplish far more than he should have been able to. (E.g., if people actually read and followed the Constitution).

              • Feather Blade

                I don’t know. I certainly haven’t.

                …but since the jars were already hot from the contents I don’t think it caused that much heat-stress.

            • DO NOT use that method for low acid foods like chicken stock. The contents of the jar won’t exceed 212 degrees, so you won’t kill any botulinum spores in the food. You need a pressure canner to get the food hot enough to kill the spores.

              • Feather Blade

                You’re probably right, but if it makes you feel better, the stock was boiling when it went in the jars, and didn’t stop boiling for an hour after I took the jars out of the oven.

                …which was pretty neat, actually.

                • Doesn’t matter, boiling water at atmospheric pressure isn’t hot enough to kill botulinum.

                • He’s right – Botulinum and Clostridium spores can survive normal boiling temperatures. I had already known that, but the quick search I did before Firefox crashed on me said that Clostridium spores can survive up to 121C, or about 250F. Proper handling of the food during preparation can keep the contamination to a minimum, so you might get away with it for a long time, but eventually, it’s likely to through the process and make your food hazardous.

                  • Yeah, but that’s why you have the tops which flex. If the lid loses vacuum before you open the thing it’s obviously bad. Assuming that the top doesn’t pop after a month or two, you’re probably good.

    • Forget that Sanford. We had a backyard plot only (well, several, spread over several houses. You sold the house but not the right to cultivate) and my first “job” was to be dragged out at dark o’ eight at the age of five to weed the onion patch.

    • Absolutely – or spend hours doing the canning because it had to be done before the vegetables spoiled. Or canning meat– butchering. Or any other tons of work-intensive chores that lasted days with very little sleep.

    • Feather Blade

      My mother says that this is why she was never inclined to go camping.

      She knows what it’s like to go to the outhouse in all weather and at any time of night, and what it’s like to have no running water and cook on a wood stove, because that’s what she did for the first 18 years of her life on her parents’ ranch.

      She really likes indoor plumbing.

      • this is why I don’t camp. Instead of camping, we’d spy for rock bottom sales at embassy suites. Our big “vacations” are three days in Denver. Oh, we took the kids hiking and visiting mines, but an indoor bathroom I MUST have.

        • I can respect not camping. OTOH, I started getting involved in hunting and fishing and other “outdoorsy” activities (even though I am very much a city boy) and was able as a result to get off antidepressants.

      • The Other Sean

        I can understand that. When I camped when I was younger, that’s what it was like, save that there was running water at the restrooms. It was neat, in a way, but it can be a lot of work.

        I like to do a lot of hiking and sightseeing and scenic driving, and when I was first an adult on my own I was limiting myself to day trips or overnight trips because I was using hotels and motels, and eating out for every meal.

        I then realized I could compromise. I didn’t have to camp quite so primitively. Now I usually van camp several times per year, but only when/where the weather isn’t too hot/humid in the evening. I always pick a camp site reasonably close to a restroom building. Lights and running water are nice. 🙂

        I also don’t like messing with cooking much on vacation, even when camping. So I usually go with restaurants, or to food that requires little effort. Often it is purchased hard-boiled eggs + bacon jerky for breakfast, plus something simple for lunch, like fruit, vegetables, PB+J, or lunch meat sandwiches. Dinner at a restaurant then makes a nice end for a long day of hiking and/or sightseeing.

        Sometimes I’ll do a cabin rental with friends, instead of camping. In that case, we still will try to keep things simple, but will skip the restaurant dinner in favor of a simple homemade dinner, perhaps something quickly tossed into a crockpot.

        I’m fairly happy with the van camping, but I’d like a little better quality of bedding, and the ability to a use the restroom at night without needing to tromp through the dark in bear country. As a result, I’m currently renovating an ancient (i.e. dates from Truman administration) Airstream I found that was little more than a shell. Well, not right this moment, as it is cold and wet outside, so I’m typing on my keyboard instead, but you get the idea.

        • …bacon jerky

          Bacon Jerky?! BACON JERKY!?!? Why Was I Not Informed That This Existed?!?!?!?

          • The Other Sean

            Bacon jerky seems to be a relatively recent innovation, or at least its more widespread availability is recent. Maybe since 2012 or so? It is awesome travel food, even when not camping. For day trips when hiking or doing other outdoor activities, it is also a good option, as it packs a lot of calories in a compact space, and is very flavorful while being less hard than beef jerky. Also, it has a safe three day life from opening, when not refrigerated.

            With a small cooler on road trips for hard-boiled eggs, and maybe some butter and/or cream cheese for bagels or other bread products, bacon jerky makes an important part of the Sean-approved on-the-go breakfast. When going on long road trips, I can’t say enough for that combo, especially when you don’t want to waste time stopping for meals, or the availability of open places to stop at is low. For example, there are stretches of road in the Appalachians or west of the Mississippi where you can go an hour or more and find no real food options in the wee hours.

            • The Barenaked Ladies are going to have to change some of the patter they have in “If I had a Million Dollars.”

            • sanfordbegley

              Warning, it depends, as most foods do, on your palate. I love Bacon, I love jerky. To me Bacon jerky does a disservice to both. Some of the bacon flavor is lost completely, some of the jerky flavor is covered by the bacon flavor. Try a small batch, say a pound or two before it becomes a travel staple

              • I generally use Bacon Jerky as a “road snack”. The things I can get at roadside stores that I can actually eat on the road amount to nuts, cheese, and bacon jerky. Beef and other Jerkies generally have way too much sugar.

    • Lawdy!

      They never had to slaughter and dress a pig/cow/sheep/goat/chicken/turkey. They never had to snap/shell peas/beans, cut okra, mash tomatoes, cut potatoes/peppers/etc in preparation for canning, and then the hot drudge work of canning the stuff.

      Never had to go take a crap in a clapboard outhouse when it was below freezing, which BTW was NOT near either the house or the water well, usually a walk of at least 30-40 yards, then wipe your ass with whatever paper was handy.

      I still like to camp out primitive, but only for a few days, usually a weekend, with the boys and men in the Scout troop, but it makes me truly appreciate the ability to come home and take a long hot shower and throw the dirty uniforms into the washer and then the dryer. Cooking over an open wood fire is great, but we also use cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, steel utensils, and plastic plates that are the by-product of an industrial civilization.

      Dumb-asses, all of them. (including the Mark troll)

      • Am I admitting how pathetic I am if I admit one of my biggest concerns about a possible economic collapse is would I be able to bring myself to slaughter animals for food or would I have the too typical urban reaction to blood and “isn’t it cute” resulting in starvation?

        I’m not saying I want to do the rest to survive in a more low tech world (say 1900 or even 1930) but, barring actual physical disability I think I can do it. But slaughtering animals I worry might have an unsurmountable mental hurdle.

        • After you’ve worked with said animal for a while and been stepped on, pecked, chased, pooped-upon, mashed against a fence, you’ll be able to off the beast.

          • Familiarity breeds dinner?

          • My grandmother still wasn’t. My mom had to kill animals. And heaven forbid it was an animal grandma had raised, because then it couldn’t be killed at all. We had more chickens in honorable retirement than I care to mention.
            Of course, very few animals attacked/pecked grandma. The only one I remember was a vicious rabbit doe who ate her litters AND attacked grandma, and that one grandma killed herself.

            • This is actually a very good technique to improve your animal population– when you “retire” one, try to make sure they produce your next generation of laying hens.

              If there’s a couple of other folks who are doing the same, you can end up with roosters that aren’t homicidal maniacs and hens a child can gather the eggs from.

          • Blond_Engineer

            Larry Correia once mentioned that some of his meals were seasoned with vengeance.

        • sanfordbegley

          Hunger is remarkable at sharpening ones wits and dulling ones conscience

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Definitely.

            Although you might have a different reaction to slaughtering chickens. Killing them would become easy after you watch a bunch of them for a while, but seeing what THEY eat might put you off of actually eating one.

            • Chickens would probably be the easiest…I’ve seen them watch me and you could tell they were trying to figure out how to kill and eat ME.

              • They’re the closest relative of the t-rex. If you were a chicken, my love!https://accordingtohoyt.com/2009/10/07/when-the-chickens-roamed-the-earth/

              • Wayne Blackburn

                But a lot of people, when finding out that chickens will eat essentially EVERYTHING, including their own droppings, would be afraid to eat the dang things.

                But eggs definitely have more flavor if the chickens are eating a variety, including bugs, worms, and the occasional mouse or snake.

                • The meat has more flavor, too. I grew up (in France) eating free-range chicken, which had gotten a lot more than grain in its diet. When I came to America to go to college, I thought the bland taste of the chicken I found at KFC et al was because it had been heavily processed. Turns out it’s because those chickens never ate anything but grain in their lives. I’ve pretty much stopped buying chicken that isn’t free-range; I find it bland and tasteless.

                • I know that chickens go for sow bugs (pill bugs, maybe) “like a duck on a June bug,” but mice? Aren’t mice too big for chickens to eat?

                  • I think they eat pretty much everything they can catch, and can sort of hunt together so something like pecking an injured mouse to death sounds more than plausible.

                    What I have seen them eat is newborn or close to it mice, when one happened to locate a mouse nest on the yard (another farm than the one my uncle had, my family had a house right next door to a big producing one from the time I was four. My job as a kid was to fetch us a liter of milk after their evening milking – yes, raw milk during my whole childhood, although at least that neighbor farm had a bit more hygienic way to produce it than uncle’s farm had, milking machines and so on instead of milking by hand out in the pasture during the summer – and I’d sometimes help their kids to hunt for the nests their free range chickens kept hiding around their yard).

                  • Nope. I’ve watched chickens kill and eat a mouse. it was gone in less than 5 minutes.

                  • Have you seen what they’ll do to the chicken that’s on the low end of the pecking order?

                    Part of why “free range” rules are supported by companies big enough to afford to lose animals is that when the flock gets big enough, they’ll peck their own to death.

                    Mice don’t stand a chance.

                  • They just peck them to pieces.

                    We had a mouse problem at our house in the country. When I had chickens, every time I caught a mouse in a trap, I would carry it out and pitch it to the chickens. It’s entertaining watching the rest of them chase the one with the mouse and try to take it away from the current holder. Same thing happened when I would throw out some picked-over corn cobs.

          • “How To Survive”


            lyrics by Bertolt Brecht
            music by Kurt Weill
            from “The Threepenny Opera”

            Now those among you full of pious teaching
            Who teach us to renounce the major sins
            should know before you do your heavy preaching
            our middle’s empty
            there it all begins

            Your vices and our virtues are so dear to you
            So learn the simple truth from this our song
            wherever you aspire
            whatever you may do
            first feed the face
            and then talk right and wrong

            For even honest folk
            May act like sinners
            unless they’ve had their customary dinners.

            What keeps a man alive?

            What keeps a man alive
            He lives on others
            He likes to taste them first then eat them whole if he can

            Forgets that they’re supposed to be his brothers
            That he himself
            Was ever called a man

            Remember if you wish to stay alive

            For once do something bad and you’ll survive

            You warn us with appropriate caresses
            That virtue humble virtue always wins
            Now please before your moral verve oppresses
            Our middle’s empty there it all begins

            Oh you who dote in our despair and your desire
            may learn the simple truth from this our song
            whatever you may do whatever you aspire
            first feed the face and then talk right and wrong
            for even saintly folk may act like sinners
            unless they’ve had their customary dinners

            What keeps a man alive?

            What keeps a man alive
            He lives on others
            He likes to taste them first then eat them whole if he can
            Forgets that they’re supposed to be his brothers
            That he himself was ever called a man
            Remember if you wish to stay alive
            For once do something bad and you’ll survive.

        • We were always taught, you don’t name the chickens/rabbits/etc. If you have to, you name them all “lunch.” As kids, it was our job to chase down the headless chickens when they’d run after being chopped. Oh, and there was a (well-known) saying: “City folks see a deer and think, ‘Bambi.’ Country folks see a deer and think, ‘a rat with antlers.'”

          • “You hunt deer?”
            “Nope.”
            “You have problems with hunting deer?”
            “Nope. Better you kill it with a bullet or an arrow, than I kill it with a car.”

          • Those of us who like venison think “dinner”…… 🙂

            • I think “dinner” when I see reindeer. 😀

              (Not hunting though, those things are all owned by somebody and slaughtered by their owners. Need to buy the meat).

          • My daughter and I had this conversation after getting our chickens — for the purposes of having eggs. Yes, we named them … and I suppose if it were absolutely necessary, we could slaughter and eat one … but the three are very social critters, and one of the hens — the clever one — is very social, to the point of following us around when we are working in the garden. No, I suspect that after their egg-laying days are over, we will have hens in retirement.

          • Rabbit named Stu…and Bambi = speedbump

            • The wife and I were at a restaurant one evening that had rabbit stew and venison steaks on the menu. We told the waitress we’d like Bambi and Thumper.

              Thumper was great but Bambi was tough.

              • Most places I’ve seen try venison have a tendency to treat it like beef; it hasn’t got nearly enough fat for that.

          • Peter Sanders

            My wife has a co-worker with a hobby farm, who raises a head or two of beef. He has been known to name the steers, a memorable pair were cheese and ham, the burger brothers.

        • I have a friend who names his chickens things like Wings, Thighs, Kiev, Ala King, and Noodle Soup. It helps when it’s time to process them when they stop laying eggs.

        • You can’t live entirely alone anyways, so whoever you work with can do it.

          Might have to trade some jobs they can’t do/don’t want, but you can be at ease about that.

        • That can sort of happen even for people who have been doing it their whole lives. One of my aunts once told me the story of a pig she raised for food, the way she had been raising them for years, and did for years afterwards (they’d buy a piglet and kill it when it became an adult) but this particular one happened to be a very nice and friendly fellow (pigs often aren’t, especially not when they get past the cute piglet stage). It did became pretty much her special pet.

          They were also tight enough for money that there was no way no how her family could keep it as a pet, with three young sons and, I’m afraid, rather useless man of the house (my uncle by blood, both my father and that unmarried uncle who kept the farm had some problems with alcohol, but that one of the brothers was a full blown alcoholic most of his life). So it got slaughtered at its due time, only this was the one time she didn’t take part in that (she didn’t shoot them, but usually had helped with the gutting etc).

          And some 40 years later she still nearly cried when she told me about it.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Hmm… I wonder if a camp could be marketed that would draw the Speshul Snowflakes to a week or two of harvesting/preserving all day. Might open the eyes of a few percent of them.

        • You assume that they would want their eyes opened. They prefer the strident certainty of their ingorance. We would have to force them into the camps, and that’s their play, not ours.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            No, no, no! I’m talking about marketing it as a “Wonderful vacation to yesteryear!” and getting them all excited to go and live the simpler, more wholesome life of the past.

            Then make them work their asses off just to be able to eat.

            • There are a couple of hobby and living history exhibit farms in Finland which get some of their hay for the winter that way. Advertise for old time experience, have fun with the haying, you’ll get a free meal too! (or not even that, may have to pay for the meal and refreshments you get during work). 🙂

              Some people, though, actually seem to like doing it. They _do_ get repeat customers.

        • Back in the 90s for a bit there was a hipster thing of paying for “hobo vacations”: (http://hackalife.com/131/). Around the same time an old Russian submarine that had been bought and towed to Florida to be a museum went up for auction on eBay.

          I said then I wish I’d had the money to buy it, referb it, and hire some old Navy buddies to give “live the submarine life” week long trips to fools with more money than brains. Let them take logs and field day without sunlight for a week and pay for the privlege.

          • I remember that submarine! It was a couple of years after the Navy auctioned off the stripped hulk of the USS Cabot, a WWII aircraft carrier.

            It went for $80,000…

            Granted it was little more than a floating shell, but it was a freakin’ aircraft carrier! Room for 1,500 crew, plus aircraft and supplies. For less money than what most people pay for something to tow to the lake behind their truck.

            If I had had any idea it would sell that cheaply, I would have scraped up the money somehow, had it towed pas the 3-mile limit, dropped anchor, and declared my own independent kingdom.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        We got a pickup full of fresh sweet corn once because we helped our farmer neighbor rescue his fields from a nasty hailstorm. Probably about 20 straight hours of work for my dad, my mom and me to get it picked, shucked, blanched and frozen. Most delicious corn I’ve ever eaten, but it cured me of ever wanting to live off the land. 🙂

        • Feather Blade

          That is kind of the problem… all the food comes in at once.

          Much different than getting one 25# box of peaches at the farmers market and doing a six-bottle batch every other weekend.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            Yup. I *like* canning and cooking, but I still don’t want to HAVE TO.

            • Exactly … I *like* canning, cooking, cheesemaking, sewing, wine and beer-brewing and gardening, but I do them because I *like* to. Not because I *have* to.

          • Or spending an hour or few picking your own strawberries for freezing. Hell, I can’t even do that anymore, my knees can’t handle crouching for longer than maybe half an hour, if that. The self picked strawberries are noticeably cheaper than those sold in boxes so I used to do it sometimes, but not for years now. Besides the already frozen ones imported here are now usually even cheaper.

    • As one who spent childhood married to a dairy herd on a series of failing farms Thanks I’ll take vanilla. Warm, dry, comfortable and connected in ways and at speeds barely dreamed of in my childhood with goods from the globe easily available the Noble Savage never had it so good.

    • Cows don’t stop eating just because it’s Christmas.

      • Or pooping…

        And they need to be milked too. In fact, they tend to start complaining very, very loudly if that is done even a little late.

        • Free-range Oyster

          The Oyster Mother grew up on a small farm. She explained to me years ago that milch cows and vacations are mutually exclusive. 🙂

          • Feather Blade

            I suppose… that if you let the new calves nurse for a couple of weeks you might be able to get away with a vacation…(that’s what my grandfather did. Mom said that she hated that time of year because they had to drink powdered milk. Of course they only had a couple cows, for the family’s use…)

            On the other hand, who would want to leave the ranch with a bunch of vulnerable babies around?

  2. An aquaintance of mine bought into the whole “back to the past” thing, and periodically rhapsodizes about how much better things were back in the 1800s.

    Apparently some part of his brain is made of Teflon, because I always ask, “And how long would you enjoy life without your insulin?” Apparently the little bottles are grown organically on insulin bushes.

    There are people who see better times in the past, and yearn to go back there. And there are people who see better times in the future, and work to make it happen… I call the first kind “losers.”

    • Well you see, back in the past people didn’t *need* insulin. You never hear it mentioned in the histories, do you? (Because all the diabetics, you know, died horribly at an early age, but never mind that bit…)

      • While many think of penicillin or perhaps even sulfa as the first ‘Miracle Drug’, I recall a documentary on the very early harvesting (it was not production as such, then) and isolation of useful insulin which made a solid claim for it being the first ‘Miracle Drug’. Without it the patient died, and with it the patient lived. This was for what is now called Type I Diabetes.

        • Hospitals used to have diabetes wards where patients – usually very young – were housed as they slipped into a coma and eventually died. One of the first trials of insulin involved to doctors who had isolated the stuff going into ward and injecting patient after patient. Before the last one was injected the first were waking up from the brink of certain death. Miracle drug indeed.

          • I used to live next door to a guy who was the oldest living diabetic born before cheap insulin. He was born a diabetic, his doctor recognized it right off and recommended to his mother to go to a certain doctor in Boston (name escapes me) who was successful in treating diabetics solely with diet. His family was able to afford insulin by the time he was 6 or 7. He died 7 or 8 years ago in his 90’s.

    • A diabetic said that? Seriously? I have a hard time imagining a diabetic wanting to go back to a time before we knew how to harvest insulin. For that matter, I have a hard time imagining a diabetic wanting to go back to a time before there were epipens to deliver that insulin and digital blood sugar meters to tell you how much you should take. I can vaguely understand the “back to nature” attitude from someone who would have a chance of surviving in that sort of environment; for those of us with medical conditions, it’s a death wish.

      • Seriously. Insulin has always been available at the corner phamacy for a few dollars’ co-pay. That there was a some before insulin just doesn’t register.

        He was an adult when cellphones came out, but he probably thinks Julius Caesar had a land line.

        For some people, the world is and was always pretty much like it is right where they live now.

        • The same folks assume electricity comes magically from the socket/switch on the wall…….

          • Man lives by bread alone, and the source of bread is the corner bakery. Peace is to be preferred above honor, and can be had by jeering at colonels and reading newspapers.
            –C. s. Lewis
            (from memory)

    • That “back to the past” diabetic acquaintance has apparently never read “Lucifer’s Hammer”. Or, it didn’t stick.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Given that I know a guy who doesn’t even really believe in diabetes, I can believe that it wouldn’t have stuck.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Oh, and that was a guy who regularly has blood glucose readings in the 400 range.

        • how does one not believe in diabetes? It’s a real disease. People have been known to die of it.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Apparently he doesn’t know anyone who has serious complications from it. He’s not a grand conspiracy theorist, or anything, though. He’s just too damn thick-headed for his own good. I don’t know him well – he’s the brother or cousin of one of my friends I don’t see much. It’s barely possible that I was able to convince him that it’s real and real dangerous when I talked to him a couple of years ago and told him about another friend who died from it.

            • An uncle of mine had his foot amputated and ultimately died of Diabetes.

              • My friend’s diabetic niece was totally resentful of her helicopter mother. She said something about finally being able to live her own life at the mother’s funeral. She’d died in a car accident.
                The niece was found at home in a coma two weeks later and died within the month. Some people are incapable of facing reality.

          • Type 2 Diabetes takes effect so slowly that it’s possible to miss. It’s not uncommon for people with Type 2 not to realize that there is anything wrong until they go blind or have to have a foot amputated or something.

            Type 1 it really isn’t possible to deny: “Huh. I’ve lost 20 pounds in a week and am too weak to stand in front a mirror and brush my own hair. I wonder if there might just possibly be something wrong…”

    • Feather Blade

      “And how long would you enjoy life without your insulin?”

      Try asking him when he started developing a death wish.

  3. John in Philly

    Worked on a farm as a summer job in 1967 or so. Thus farming has never been any part of my career plans.

    I still tend to write longish letters, but I do it in email.

    I will very occasionally use a wood plane to tweak something, but any serious woodworking is going to make use of the magical power of electricity.

    I am in my early sixties and I think the new technology stuff is awesome and have no desire to go backwards.

    I was rereading the Time Scouts stories, yes I read the original paperbacks when they were new. And the authors seem to get the short and brutish aspects of ancient life very accurately.

    Or the short debate when someone says that power plants should be closed and everyone should make there own electricity. The debate is short because I just walk away.

    • Lately I’ve been reading the Hugh de Singleton chronicles, and they get the short and brutish part quite well too.

    • I suppose they mostly imagine living in the past as living as one of the upper crust, with servants and no need to shovel the horse manure themselves. Or producing what appears on their table with the help of all those fat and happy servants.

      No working from sunrise to sunset. Just time to sit and write long letters on beautiful handmade paper with an elegant quill pen, or gossip with their peers, while those fat and happy gossiping servants do all the work when not playing the comic relief for their bosses.

      And if they don’t imagine themselves as members of the noble class, then they imagine themselves in some nice family farm with such a big family that there is hardly enough work for all of them, and they all get along and like each other, and the fields and the animals are always healthy and produce plenty enough food for everybody with no problems.

      What was that artist named who painted those overly ornate very, very pretty paintings of rustic cottages covered with flowers and so on? That’s what life in the past was always like, right? Wasn’t it? 😀

      • And since it’s all healthy and very natural people survive things which now might kill them, and if anybody does die it’s in a comfortable bed with clean linens and surrounded by your loving family and friends, and you maybe cough a bit or something but it’s all very comfortable and dignified, and then you just sort of fall asleep and the family’s personal doctor checks for your pulse and declares you dead. Much nicer than those busy hospitals. 0:)

      • Kinda like how all the college communists imagine they’d be high ranking members of the Party, rather than relegated to the Proletariat, or worse, come the Revolution.

  4. I don’t get the whole ‘technology isolates people’ thing. Right now I’m able to engage in conversations with people across the world who I never would have met without technology. The internet is awesome like that. You know what else is awesome? Typing. My hand writing is so bad that if I had to write and send letters to people I’d probably be in near total isolation. And if anyone tries to blame typing on my lack of penmanship I’ll hit them with all the notebooks I have full of stuff I’ve written out by hand. Seriously, half a dozen or more of them and I’m still one of the only people who can read what I write.

    • right, On any given day I communicate with people near by who I see semi-regularly, those in England who I only see in electronic form, those in the Antipodes who I also connect with via technology, and even some famous sorts have chatted with me over various issues (well, some of them yelled and then blocked me, but hey, who hasn’t been blocked by Alan Colmes and Alec Baldwin?) and if we were at those “savage” levels of tech, that would not be happening.
      Funny enough, if things were to drop back like that, much like Anarchists and their dreams, the ones most hopeful for the situation would be often the first to succumb to it.

    • Let’s see… right NOW, I am typing this, here, and communicating despite time and distance. Both Pidgin (for AIM and other IM services) is up and running. So is Skype. And I have an IRC client running so i can keep up with some of the #Penguicon folks. Even Second Life is really mostly IM. And if that isn’t enough, the cellphone is nearby – call me and you get… me. No longer are you calling a place, but a person. Businesses are the general exception to that. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s an FM/Sideband VHF/UHF transceiver on the desk, and well, alright, I need to set up an antenna for the HF rig. But I guess I don’t talk to people, do I?

      • I can work with original medieval or classical manuscripts, just by clicking a few buttons and looking at some pictures. No travel and no credentials required. Yup, if the scholars of yore had had the Internet and keyboards, they would have loved it and hugged it and called it Awesome.

        • That reminds me of the letter to Sky & Telescope in the 1980’s (I think) bemoaning the use of “cheap plastic” and such and thus instruments lacking the beauty of the wood and brass instruments of days past. The editors replied that the makers used what was available then, and the current makers used what was available now – and that while wood and brass remain available, the “cheap plastic” does as good or better for the job and at lower cost. Hand a 19th century telescope maker today’s materials and, after the shock wore off, he’d produce a what looked like a modern day telescope, having chosen the best materials for the job.

          Some don’t seem to realize how we use new materials almost as fast they are invented as they do something better, or even make something possible that wasn’t before.

    • I don’t understand my own handwriting. I used to borrow people’s notes from classes I attended, just to help me decipher my own.

    • Of course technology isolates people. Here’s an example of people isolated by the printing press:

      • The Other Sean

        They’re so isolated they might as well be Strangers on a Train.

      • Been there, Done that. You still can, 5:08 out of Grand Central. Except for the car and the hats the scene hasn’t changed much.

        • Actually that’s the morning commute into Grand Central Which is why everybody’s reading the papers. The evening rush is different and there are a bunch of long standing social groups on various trains. Though the retirement of the bar cars may change that.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I can see one aspect of it. By removing the face-to-face aspect of communication, people in general have been losing the art of dealing with others they don’t really like with diplomacy, instead of just insulting them.

      • I think this may just be something happening at the same time– the stakes are higher, so there’s less tolerance of diversity, especially on subjects where you are “supposed” to say the right thing.

        Especially when “the right thing” is different things in different groups– I think it’s SuburbanBanshee that told the story about the NCIS episode that focused on a funeral, made it Irish style, and thus deeply offended the Italian style folks involved?

    • Greetings from the Highlands of Papua New Guinea! When I first got here in 1999, we had no internet, and very sporadic email- which was a vast improvement over the typical 3-6 month ETA for physical mail.

    • As a counterpoint to that –

      A Saudi blogger that I used to occasionally read over a decade ago once posted a story about sitting in a restaurant, looking at the couple sitting at the table next to him, and wondering why their conversation looked so odd.

      Then he realized that they were both talking on their cell phones. They were both conversing – but not with each other.

      Technology is a tool like any other tool. It can help us, or it can hinder us. And as with any other tool, the determination of which it does depends on how we let it influence our lives.

      • Last year, in Chattanooga for LibertyCon, $HOUSEMATE and I were waiting at diner for a very late supper and checking things online since there was wifi… and someone at a nearby table was going on passive-aggressive about it was terrible didn’t talk to each other anymore and only looked at their phones. I did not make a scene by telling this dolt that we’d spent the last two days in one vehicle getting there and whatever we would have had to say to each other had been said already. I was, however, being very conservative of the data during that time.

        • It’s beyond Godwin’s law at this point– if you post a picture of folks at a table, and one has a phone visible, someone will complain about it.

          Even if the caption says “George trying to figure out where his sister Sally got to, while John gives her directions.”

          • Now I wonder if I could manage a table, with table cloth, a candle or two, and covered trays… in a phone booth. And yes, I do know of a proper close-the-door phone booth.

    • I don’t get the whole ‘technology isolates people’ thing.

      Maybe it’s an introvert/extrovert sort of thing?

      I realized this summer that the folks who rave about people playing on their phones and ignoring them were the same ones that kinda sucked the room out of the air by abusing other folks’ manners, and people doing other stuff made that not possible.

      Maybe part of that is that they’re folks who can’t feel they’re in “contact” the same way we do, on line?

      • That could well be. My (late) aunt worked as clown and I’ve been in various costume and covering the face creeps some people out. My suspicion is that for some of those, the cutting off of being able to ‘read’ facial tone and expression throws an error. I have wondered if these same people are more apt to be taken in by pathological liars – who believe the nonsense they say, so the “I’m lying” signal isn’t there.

  5. Rousseau au poteau!
    Seriously, the world would have been a better place if Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s allocated lifetime had been added to that of Jean-Sébastien Rousseau (better known as Johann Sebastian Bach :))

    • Or even if Jean-Jacques had just spent more time on *his* composing and not his philosophy.

      Although if we are trading allocated lifetimes around, I would give it to Mozart, at least Bach had 65 years, Mozart only had 36!

      And, for Freudian slips – my fingers actually typed Bosch first – not Bach. Now is that the power tool or the Star Wars bounty hunter? Back to work.

      -John

      • Bosch? must be the Spark Plugs

      • Anonymous Coward

        The artist Hieronymus Bosch.

      • Or even if Jean-Jacques had just spent more time relating to his wife, mistresses and their byblows (instead of consigning the brats to orphanages.)

        https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist257s02/students/Lindsay/shelley&rousseau.htm
        “Although [Mary] Shelley was deeply influenced by Rousseau’s work, she did not respect some of his choices in life. He abandoned his children to an orphanage, to which Shelley commented, ‘Rousseau failed in this….the distortion of intellect that blinded him to the first duties of life, we are inclined to believe to be allied to that vein of insanity, that made him an example among men for self-inflicted sufferings.‘ She felt that because he was the bearer of such intense intellect, it was his right to bring up his children and pass on his vast amounts of knowledge to them.

        “Rousseau also had relationships with various women, of which Shelley did not fully approve. When comparing him to his wife Therese, she scorned him, saying, ‘he deserves more [blame] for having chosen, in the first place, an ignorant woman, who had no qualities of heart to compensate for stupidity; and secondly, for having injured instead of improving her disposition by causing her to abandon her children, and taking from her the occupations and interests that attend maternity.‘ Mary Shelley clearly did not approve of his treatment of Therese and felt that he should have been more sensible in his choice of a companion.”

        • philosophers were really just the rock stars of their times. they said outrageous things solely to get laid and to get money. It didn’t matter if any of what they said really made sense (and 90 percent of what they said didn’t), just as long as it was witty and people could argue over it and sound better than the next man.
          Really, compare any philosopher to any big rock star. There really is little difference, except many of the later can at least play a musical instrument.

          • Free-range Oyster

            I’d love to get KilteDave’s take on that comparison. From across the room, preferably. 😀

            • The Other Sean

              Is he a philosopher or a rock star?

              • He’s my adopted 3rd son, so you figure.

              • These days it can be both, as shown by these selections

                Professor Jagger: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you can get what you need.”

                Dr. Madonna: “You know that we are living in a material world. And I am a material girl.”

                Herr Doktor Springsteen: “It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap. We gotta get out while we’re young. `Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

                Professor Fogerty: “Don’t go around tonight, Well it’s bound to take your life, There’s a bathroom on the right.”

      • “It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.”
        – Tom Lehrer, introducing one of his songs

  6. I lived for sixteen years in an apartment which didn’t have a shower. Hogged showers from friends, and when I couldn’t get one washed my hair in a bucket, and used sponge paths.

    I am a bit smug about it, mostly because it gives me a good point to make fun of the more spoiled individuals I may meet. Perhaps like those who daydream of the good old days they have never experienced, not even a little bit.

    But damn having your own shower, and plentiful hot and cold water, is so very, very good now that I again have them (closing on a decade, now. I might still move to a more primitive apartment if I had to – usually they have a lot cheaper rents… – but I quite hope I never need to. Living primitive for a while, like on a camping trip, can be fun. But it’s not much fun when it’s the permanent arrangement).

    • As we say out here. “Nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” I understand completely.

    • Ouch. Even the place I lived in for a few years with its rather dubious plumbing arrangement at least had a shower once the well was drilled and connected.

      The jaw-dropper seems to be explaining that “Knock Three Times” was a real thing. Yes, it is possible to live without any phone at all. Not desirable, but possible.

    • When I lived in Oregon, pretty much every office that I ever worked at had a shower in the bathrooms (which I noticed they still do when I was working up there last year).
      This wasn’t so people could ‘work out’ at lunch, this was so if your power was out (which was common once you got outside of Portland in the winter) you could catch a shower at work before starting.
      Because no power equals no water, and no hot water.
      Yeah, I’d shower at work a couple of weeks every winter. Once I had to do it for a whole month.

    • Pfft for showers — you can heat water on the ol’ wood burner and sponge bath, or even live with the dirt. Howabout washing machines and dryers in home? Beats heck out of trudging down to the creek and spending the day scrubbing the stains in, then hanging the laundry on the line to catch who knows what kinds of pollen and insect bits.

      • Well based on the dirty hippies and OWS perhaps the typical prognard doesn’t value laundry or showers all that much.

      • Heh. Of course I didn’t have those either. Same arrangement. Friends… at that time especially friends with pets who needed frequent pet sitter service. I was always ready since that meant I could use both their shower and their washing machine. And the ones who didn’t have cars could always call for a car and a driver in exchange for time in their bathrooms. 😀

        • And underwear and smaller clothes: washing by hand in a couple of buckets. Since I didn’t have hot running water that actually meant heating water on the wooden stove, sometimes I had all of my pots on it at the same time. Major project. Have to say washing machines are a lot faster…

    • Wayne Blackburn

      While my wife can understand not having a shower, she can’t understand how I could have grown up taking baths with barely enough water in the tub to reach my ankles (which was all my mother would allow). My father finally installed a shower some years after I had left home.

      • One thing I do NOT miss, being in town– no husbanding the well water!

        • We had a cistern. We even had an enormous cistern by the standards of such things. There was an extra room off the basement that was about 10×10, and would fill up to about 5′ 6″ deep (that was the bottom of the opening we had in the wall to check the water level). Most cisterns I’ve seen aren’t even a quarter that size.

    • I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t to drugs. I don’t gamble. I don’t cheat on my wife. I even drive within the speed limit.

      But I *will* run the 40-gallon water heater cold a couple of times a day…

      “What is it that a man may call the greatest things in life?”

      “Hot showers, broadband, and plenty of ammunition…”

      • I don’t know if it’s because it’s gas, or if it’s one of the many “I know a guy” improvements on this place– but our house’s water heater CANNOT be run cold.

        I dang near scorch my skin off before my husband does his luxury shower, and he’ll take an hour, and it’s still warm at the end. (Well, as warm as he’ll take it.)

  7. Hear, hear! I’ve lived in a house with no hot water, except what you heated up yourself. NOT fun in winter!
    I’ve lived in a house that had outside plumbing – i.e., an outhouse. Hard in winter, incredibly noxious in summer – and it seems the flies never take vacation.
    I’ve lived in a house where the heat was from burning wood. Yes, it can be romantic – today! – but at the time it was immeasurably difficult. Sure, using wood you warm up 2-3 times: when felling the tree, when splitting the wood, and when burning it. I’ll take a thermostat any day.
    The home I live in now, although modest, has hot and cold running water, INDOOR plumbing, and is temperature controlled at my fingertip.
    All hail the Romans, whose greatest contribution to civilization was indoor plumbing. We built on that start, and I am not about to tear it down.
    Nor put up with fools who want it torn down.

    • folks tend to not have a clue to how much wood it takes to heat a house in winter. nor do they have a clue as to how much work that is.
      Reconnected with a school buddy, who paid for his driveway plowing by giving the guy split firewood (the most common form of Barter the plowing guy uses). For heating his house my buddy orders he wood and it shows up in a dump truck. He’ll happily cut and split a few cords of wood, but to ensure he has heat all winter in one of the colder portions of the U.P. he buys it.

      • They also have no idea of how hard it is, doing cooking and baking over a wood fire. Or heating water to wash yourself and your clothing in.

        I read a lot about 19th century life, for pleasure and for research, but I am under no illusion over how much hard, physical, boring work that any kind of living entailed. Me participate in one of those “return to the past” reality shows like the 1900 House, or the Pioneer House?

        No farther back for me than the mid-1920s. Electricity and running water are something I am not willing to do without.

        • And even those depend in large part on what part of the country you live in. Rural Arkansas, for example, didn’t have either of those amenities in the mid-20s.

          • I’ve been in the Lonoke County Courthouse in Arkansas. It’s a fine stone building, built in 1929.

            It still has the piping along the walls for the original gas lights, and there are surface-mount runs for electricity, telephone, and network cabling that went in later.

            And it was built without air conditioning, of course. I don’t know what they did for heat; steam boilers may not have been as rare back then as they are today.

            I don’t think the Rural Electricification Program was completed until quite a bit later. [clicktey] REA, not REP. And they were renamed “Rural Utilities Service” in 1994.

            • It should have been at least in process before then– my grandfather met my grandmother because he and his brothers all moved to the Golden Coast to install electricity, well before WWII.

              Could have been another hitch in the works keeping the building from being electrified, though.

              • Not in a good size chunk of the rural South, Foxfier, trust me. My parents were born in 1933; our family photos show my mother at 3 with Grandmother in a mule drawn wagon in El Dorado Arkansas..

                • They were still using animal-power into the 60s in the area my dad’s from, and one of the big stories is of a fire on Christmas eve at a party where a local hero drove 50 miles with a horse wagon to get the doctor a few years before the doctor got a car-type buggy.

                  I believe you when you say they didn’t have power, it’s just kind of mind-breaking how the things went.

                  Oooh, another possible angle– the place the power company my grandfather worked to set up was centered was the county seat, maybe distance from that mattered? Or some physical barrier?

                  • I found out this Summer that the one-room schoolhouse my mother went to was one of the first rural schools in the county to get electricity (decades before she was there). Why? Location. It was near a big dairy and the power lines were run to and for that.

                  • There were not enough power plants built to keep the voltage up on long rural areas until the late 1930’s. Anti capitalist propaganda made the utilities out to be demons for not allowing farmers whose houses were right next to power lines running between cities to get electricity, but it was a matter of keeping the voltage losses low enough to ensure reliable power to their much more profitable customers in the cities/towns. As capacity was increased in the late 1930’s and after WW2, the coops were able to buy enough power to not trip the grid and still serve the low density areas.

                • My grandparents got electricity in the late 1930’s. My paternal grandparents house still had the gas lines running along the walls and ceiling for the butane/propane lights. Papa still had the lines connected to the tank in case the power went out.

                  • Rural Electrification was one of the few New Deal / WPA programs that was a net positive. That kind of infrastructure repair (and hardening) was what Porkulous should have gone for…. but NOW protested it created too many jobs for “big burly men.”

                    When we get hit with an EMP attack, the NOW membership list since then should determine who’s dead last to get their power back.

          • I remember when the rural area outside Garden City, TX actually got phone service – 1961. It was done by the electric coop and it was a big deal when the technician came to our house to install the phone. Dad ran the wire in the house, and the coop line crew strung the cable on the poles the week before. It seemed like magic to a 5 yr old kid to talk to bith my grandmothers on the phone.

        • My mother ironed my dad’s shirts with a coal iron. White shirts. If you got even a smudge of coal on, it was back to the wash (and that happened at least once a week to one shirt, since she had to fill the iron with coals.) I told her the other day I only now realize how hard that must be.

          • I, on the other hand, have never used an iron, and have no expectations of doing so.

            If it’s not “wash and wear”, wrinkly is fine with me…

            • Feather Blade

              Y’know… if you get them out of the machine wet, snap them briskly, put them on a hanger, and let them air dry, even things that aren’t permanent press turn out pretty wrinkle free….

              • There’s also a level above perma press that’s something like “no iron.”

                You pull them out of the dryer and hang them, and they look ironed. To the point my husband has been complemented on his.

        • Yes – I have cooked on a coal wood stove– YEP… so difficult… even baked. Never again.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Years ago, I saw (on an old house tour) one of those stoves.

            I noticed it had a water compartment for heating water.

            • Late in the 19th century, the very high-end and elaborate wood-burning household cook-stoves did have build-in reservoirs for heating water. The Victorians, bless them, were endlessly inventive, and always interested in labor-saving devices.

              • Americans more so than British because it was harder to get servants. Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski has a good chapter on that.

              • The wood stove in my apartment had one, although it was one without a faucet, it held about 15 liters of water. Most of the ones I have seen here have had faucets, so you could just let the hot water out right into the bucket instead of having to pail it out. But it can take several loads of wood and a few hours to get the water boiling hot in those things. Using pots on top of the stove is a lot faster if you need hot water in a hurry (can’t be that much of a hurry though, of course it also takes a while after you get the wood burning before the stove top gets hot enough to get water boiling).

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Years back, there was a buffet restaurant near me which had a real Buck stove out front. Made of heavy iron and steel, I think it did have a water reservoir. It also had multiple rings of metal for each burner, which you could take out or put back to adjust the opening to the right size for the pot you were putting on it, and those perhaps also controlled how fast the heat came through. It was beautiful, really.

              I guarantee you that stove required some serious skills to use properly.

            • The house my dad grew up in, which we bought and used for a while, had one of those between the water heater (set to “really cheap”) and the shower.

              I figure it was grandma’s way of making sure that the first one up started the fire. 😀

        • yeah, unless it is Boil Water or Grill meat cooking with a wood stove isn’t easy.
          It is not a “Set and Walk Away” process. More like “Your whole day is monitoring the cooking” kinda thing.

          • Ex-actly. All day, every day. Cooking, laundry, cleaning, preserving, weaving, making clothes …
            The brutal chore of doing laundry alone was why commercial laundries became so popular, as soon as such a service was available.

          • What I do like about those stoves is the possibility for rather fine control of how hot you want the pot to be, you just move it closer or further away from the fire box. Right on the far edge of the stove is just hot enough to keep the food warm, right on top of the fire box is where things boil, lots of degrees between those two and they are always there as long as you keep the fire burning (after it has been burning long enough to get the stove warmed in the first place, that is).

            But yep, with the need to first start the fire and so on, making food with those stoves is a bit longer project than using an electric or gas one.

            • oh, one does learn to use them but yeah, The other thing is they will be eating a lot of burned food (you can’t just toss it if you need it for survival, and with there stupid ideas , one would) so yeah, give me a gas stove or induction electric.

      • I lived in houses that were primarily heated by wood for about ten years. I got very good at splitting logs, and eventually found a place that sold tailings from a saw mill, so I could get a couple of cords cheap each fall.
        Needless to say, I got very good at splitting short logs that could be as wide two and a half feet, down to pieces that fit in the wood stove.
        And you can’t bring wood in from the outside and burn it, if it’s too cold, it won’t burn easily, so you have to keep a stack inside, and sometimes you get unexpected ‘visitors’ with that wood.
        And you can’t let that fire go out! Because lighting it back up in a woodstove isn’t as easy as you might think. So load it up good and bank it before going to bed, then stir it up and reload it the moment you get out of bed in the morning!
        And if the inside pile is low and the outside cut pile is low, you need to split more wood, so what if it’s raining or snowing outside? If you want to be sure you’ll have heat, you still gotta get out there and get it done.
        Yeah, sometimes I miss the exercise, but then I go and turn the thermostat up and remember how much I didn’t love doing it back then!

        • Also dumping the ash hopper when it is full of little live coals……

          I have a wood stove in the basement that I use for supplemental heat in the winter. With the gifts of the Emerald Ash Borer, my woods supplies at least two cords of good firewood a year, but it is a helluva lot of work, and most weekdays, I prefer to use the propane furnace to heat the house…..

          • Does anyone know whether the Primitismites want to go back before the chain saw? ‘Cause if they’re counting on harvesting wood with an axe they are greatly increasing the cultural importance of male upper body strength.

            • For that matter so are gun control advocates, especially those wanting an outright ban.

              • It’s more effective in person, but I’ve freaked folks out by my anti-gun-control argument.

                “Why don’t you like women being able to go where they want, without a bodyguard?”

            • Sawn and split firewood comes to them just like the food they eat…From the store just like God intended.

          • and missing a live coal in the snow and it smoldering a hole in the side porch…

        • we went from a small cast iron stove, to a full on wood furnace (it had provisions for water heating as well as the forced air)
          We split with one of two hydraulic splitters borrowed from two uncles. One was faster and handled big stuff easier, but the other was easier to get the big stuff on. We used a lot of oak and Elm. Elm especially was very twisted grain.
          Any Ash trees got made into kindling. A kid with a light double bitted ax can split very large Ash down fairly quick.

          • I see hydraulic splitters at Tractor Supply – a good assortment of them, too. I’m thinking that they must be a very popular item, especially with everyone with ranch properties trying to clear cedar. (The nastiest weed tree available out here, although there are carpenters and craftspeople making very nice furniture and decorative items from it.)

            • Cedar/Juniper can be rough to split, but have drawbacks for burning, scrub oak is twisty too, and far better to burn, but there are furnaces that will even eat Pine with little drawback.

            • Locust trees are the nastiest. They have thorns, big ugly thorns, on branches and the trunks. And if they fall over, let’s say from a lightning strike, they root and grow new locust tree weeds wherever they touch the ground. And, they dull chain saws really fast. Tough, tough wood. Burns really well.

            • Mesquite wood is worse to work with. Tougher and more dense than oak.

          • Because these were all end pieces, I rarely got anything over 2.5 feet long. But I did get a lot of pieces that were close to the stump, and they could be 3 feet wide.
            I split it all by hand, using two mauls. The big pieces could be a pain, but I tell you, I got really good at setting the first maul, then banging it down with the second one to get a split going.
            Of course, then I’d have to knock the first maul out and move it to the next spot. Probably should have bought a couple of wedges, but as two mauls were usually enough, I never did.
            To be honest, sometimes splitting logs can be fun, it’s kind of zen.

            • My “uncle” (Dad’s cousin) was a big fella and when we loaded a truck with wood, if he helped, often there were pieces me and dad needed to team up to push out the back. Luckily those were usually not Oak or Elm so they could be split with and Axe. We didn’t have a splitting maul. If it couldn’t be split with a Double Bit, then try the Single, if no go, it rolled aside to be split when the wood splitter was available.
              Yeah, there is a zen to the work.

          • Here the wood sold as firewood is usually birch.

            • We had a goodly amount of birch. great tinder for starting your kindling! When we got it from a marked managed forest, we got a bit more of it, lots of Elm, some Maple, and a bit of Beech.
              Something killed off the Beech up there, so much of it is now firewood. My Uncle Gerry, and a high school buddy cut Beech and other woods for specialty woodworking. Uncle does it off his property, but my buddy travels around the area doing it for a company. He is looking to retire from that though. It is the older style, slightly more dangerous lumber jack work. You can’t damage the wood at all to get top dollar.

        • oh, a little story about chimney stuff.
          We had a small wood stove first, and the chimney wasn’t quite tall enough and when a blizzard hit, it forced smoke down into the house.
          We also lot power so while Mom took us to my Dad’s bass’ house for the night, he fought the draft to keep the house warm enough to not freeze pipes.
          He fixed the draft issue with another section of Flue. It was three block high and as it was winter, not grouted into place.
          One day, Dad decided that the Jack Pine tree next to the house needed to go, so wind from the north (away from house), Tree leaning south (away from the house), he notched it and started the back cut, and the tree of course fell north over the house. If he had ever gotten to cementing those blocks in place the Chimney likely would have ripped the wall out.

          • I was visiting a neighbor when I was about six years old in the early fall (that family had the only kids in the near neighborhood who were about my age, two brothers with just one year between them so of course I ended up playing a lot with them) when they used their wood stove for the first time in a couple of months (they had both a wood stove and an electric one, and used the wood one when it was cold enough that the extra heat from that was of use).

            During the weeks the chimney had not been in use a colony of wasps had taken it over, without the people in the house noticing that fact. So the next thing we knew the whole house was surrounded by what seemed like a cloud of wasps… my friends’ parents just closed all the windows and we sat inside for a while, they did leave after some time. I’m not sure how long, I was six so it felt like hours, although I suppose it was much less.

            Then of course there are the bird nests. Or birds falling inside the chimney, which I’m still not sure how they’d manage to do considering how small openings birds seem to be able to fly in and out otherwise. But you’d hear the squawking sometimes, and while it never happened in any place I have lived the chimney sweepers I have met would claim that sometimes when the chimney got blocked they would find out that the block was a dead bird.

            • Squirrels are good for that too.

            • birds/nests or here, critters (opossum or Raccoon) The other critters we share tend not to get up there for what ever reason, even the noted climbers.

            • In and out, yes–but not vertically. *Very* few birds can fly straight up (see “hover out of ground effect”) So once they’re in, they can’t get the airspeed to fly out again.

      • I went over to check on our neighbor yesterday, it being such a nice day and all (~30ºF), and ended up helping him split wood for his stove. Him figuring that he’d better get it done now before the the cold snap hits this weekend.

        Having lived in southern and central California all my life, I had no idea how much wood it takes to heat even a not-very-big home, and that one a newly-built (not yet finished inside) house. Good thing we’ve both got 40 acres each of mostly woodlot land.

        • Folks tend to hear “Cords” of wood and think a Face Cord, not Full Cord.
          We used to try to have about 10 cords on hand for the winter when we used 100% wood to heat. Dad and I split it and he cut most of it (we once got a full dump truck of wood from someone anonymously) and I hauled most of it from the splitter to the trees we stored it between, and I also hauled most all of it from there to the basement to the wood furnace.
          A good wood Furnace will do wonders for keeping a fire lit, and ash to a minimum.

      • We heat with wood, mainly because we are incredibly frugal and enjoy the savings and exercise. There are ads on Craigslist for free wood, and we hitch up our trailer, bring our two chainsaws and safety equipment, and harvest it.

        But talk about clueless! One place we went they were clearing all but the Southern pines so they could do forestry on 42 acres, and we showed up with our equipment and got to work on the felled oaks for a 10 hour day yielding three trailer loads/cords once split. This woman showed up in a “all terrain vehicle” (a very fancy SUV) with a cell phone glued to her ear all surprised and confused that the “free firewood” was not cut and ready to use.

        She probably also thinks that food just magically appears in the supermarket.

    • Having done the wood thing several years, I have an appreciation for gas heating indeed! That “leak” in California is a disaster – all that gas not being used!

    • This message brought you by people who have actually had to keep a stove loaded with wood.


      Get off the computer, you should be out cutting more wood.

    • It’s also pretty funny that people who profess to be so into forest preservation want a return to wood heating. When wood is your energy source, you tend to cut down a whole lot of trees.

  8. “Dead of servants” is a most excellent typo for an essay about Rousseau.

  9. Polliwog the 'Ette

    “In the days when they would be either dead of servants, according to predominant likelihood.”

    I think that is what gets lost with most of those who are nostalgic for a world that never was. They think they would be in the same circumstances as now but would be better people than now due to lack of temptation (what stops the lady from writing letters *now*?). I, on the other hand, know I *could* end up a serf (life for young widows with several -mostly female- childten was historically awful) and am deeply grateful to be when and where I am. Being able to know how select people around the country are doing on a daily basis is gravy, but it’s certainly not *nothing* either.

  10. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Nod.

    Just as some stories about people having past lives have those people being nobility or royalty, people who think that the past was better generally imagine the lives of the upper middle class not the lives of the poor.

    Of course, I say “imagine” because they likely have incorrect information on those lives.

    As for “technology isolating people”, well without the internet I’d be isolated from people partially by choice.

    It’s easier and safer (IMO) to meet/talk with people via the internet than in person.

    Of course, it can be harder to find people locally that I could discuss the things that I enjoy. [Smile]

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Of course, it can be harder to find people locally that I could discuss the things that I enjoy.

      This. For probably 30 years, I hardly knew anyone who enjoyed talking about the same things I did. Even those who liked some of the same things would get burned out way too quickly.

      • Before I read Fallen Angels, I didn’t know there were other people like me.

        From an adult perspective, I can see that I’ve got a very geeky family– but this is a 13 year old girl’s perspective, for heaven’s sake; my family being able to talk about geeky stuff was just like them being able to deal with me speaking WITH them, rather than either AT them or them speaking AT me.

    • In all my past lives, I was a peasant in either India or China. 😛

      • Heh. Actually there seem to be more than a few stories of people remembering lives of drudgery – at least when they come up because somebody plays with hypnotism – but since those lives are generally not all that interesting and the life of some peasant or servant somewhere in some not certain time period is usually either completely or at least almost impossible to verify they don’t end up in books much, except maybe as a side note somewhere. (But hypnotism induced past life memories are the most dubious when it comes to this, seems that people pretty much always come up with whatever they think the hypnotist wants)

        Besides, if most of your lives were like that but there was one interesting one, isn’t it logical you’d remember the interesting one better than all the others? I think most cases where a child seems to have spontaneous memories of a possible previous life the common theme is some sort of violent end. Which would presumably be something quite memorable…

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          IIRC in one famous “past life” case, it turns out the person actually existed but existed during the life of the hypnotized person and the hypnotized person, as a child, knew that person.

          IE the stories the hypnotized person told likely were told to her by the real person. [Very Big Grin]

  11. The thing that gets me is that the sort of stuff that made the “good old days” good is still attainable, without all the muss and fuss and dying in childbirth. “People had more time to socialize.” Put the damn device in your pocket and strike up a conversation with somebody. “There was more live music.” Once again, put away the mp3 player and pick up a guitar or a kazoo or whatever. Plant a garden and can your own vegetables. Hand make your own clothing. Wear a top hat and spats. Learn how to throw a tomahawk. Write long, rambling letters by candlelight. Go nuts.

    Just don’t pretend your hobbies are any more virtuous than the fact that they make you happy.

    • Their hobby is virtue-signalling. That’s why they complain about the death of letters rather than actually writing letters.

      • So the measure of a person is their “just do it” versus their “just complain about it”.

        Yeah, I can live with that.

      • I have been told that I can’t be a hipster (this bothers me exactly not at all) as hipsters “pretend to be poor” or such, and I’ve actually lived some of it. And I will grant that my version of ‘poor’ is worlds better than many others who were are truly worse off.

        For poor (not destitute) this was still pretty good:
        There always was at least *a* car. Ancient beater junk, sure, but it was a car. There was a residence. Pole building, sure, but it kept the wind and rain and snow out. There was food. Some from the garden, some the cheapest things to be found (I found out years later that one of my favorite comfort meals was, “That’s we did we didn’t have good food”.), sure, but there was no starving. The lights worked, unless everybody’s lights didn’t – and that was rare. No phone for some time, but there was a radio or two. And sure the TV was a rescue from a repair shop that had given up on it, but… time, effort, know-how and it served for a few years. The plumbing was.. not exactly legal, but trekking outside wasn’t a requirement. Poor was relative. Yes, in reality, we were all rich, really.

        • Memories. I remember the great treat we had as kids of buttered toast and hot chocolate for lunch, and sometimes white bread torn up with milk and sugar for breakfast. Only as an adult did I realize that these meals were because there wasn’t anything else to eat in the house.

          • White bread fried in bacon grease. Coddled eggs, stretched with torn white bread. Meatloaf made with more bread crumbs than meat. Bread-and-butter sandwiches.

            I remember those kinds of meals, too. Funny how many of mine seem to involve white bread, as opposed to other cheap starches like rice.

            • Wow, we really did have it good. I don’t recall anything of that sort. Seems there was always some sort of cereal for breakfast, whether oatmeal or one of the more plain cold cereals. The ‘comfort food’ meal I recall was a three item thing: fried potatoes, baked beans, and boiled baloney. I’m sure there were other meals that weren’t first choice, but that one stands out for me somehow. I do recall some (but not much) Spam, and $HOUSEMATE is amazed that I eat sardines and pickled herring voluntarily.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Boiled baloney? We did fried baloney sandwiches. And whenever we had cornbread, dad would crumble some up in a bowl and have it for cereal the next day. I’m sure he got this notion from when he was growing up during the Depression.

            • your mother complaining that the nut pieces in crunchy peanut butter mean she cant spread it thin enough…

              • I think my mother like{-d,-s} them, but I don’t care for the landmines in the peanut butter. Nor in brownies. Yet $HOUSEMATE claims that caraway seeds are “sharp pointy landmines” in rye bread.

                • my specific comment was that my mother complained she couldn’t spread it as thin as she wanted to, in order to make it fit in with her idealized grocery plan for the month…

              • Butter spread so thin it’s a mere yellow gloss on the bread.

          • Beans, bacon, and cheese on toast, heated under the broiler in the oven. And tuna-peas-n-cheez casserole.

          • Cinnamon toast bread!

            Or tortillas treated the same.

            And the times we got to have white rice with butter with dinner…..

            • One treat that wasn’t “we don’t have real food” was we dubbed ‘crust cookies’. When a pie was made, there was crust trimmed from it. Those trimmings were sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and baked. I don’t recall them ever getting a chance to cool all the way to room temperature.

              • When my great grandmother baked biscuits she’d roll out the dough and cut circles with a glass. Most people would roll out the irregular bits of dough leftover again and cut again and so on until they’d used all the dough. Instead, she’d back the irregular bits for the kids which she called “Goosie goosie ganders.”

                Damn, that brings back memories.

              • Feather Blade

                …What else would you do with pie dough trimmings?

            • Cinnamon toast bread!

              Or tortillas treated the same.

              I still do the latter (using low-carb tortillas and sucralose instead of sugar) because I’m craving something sweet I don’t have anything else to hand.

              • There was a local Mexican* restaurant that served up toasted flour tortillas with honey and cinnamon. I dislike honey but I liked that.

                *The proprietor was actually Argentinian and had worked as a ship’s cook for an untold number of years. As a sideline he made absolutely delicious cakes which he sold to area hotels. He also made empanadas to (make other people) die for. Sadly, he was about fifteen years ahead of the local population and could not keep his restaurant open (location issues also affected him — his restaurant was the only one to last more than a few months at his college-area location, then the landlord raised the rent, presumably having tired of getting it regularly paid.)

              • SheSellsSeashells

                One of my low-carb lifesavers was a half-and-half mix of cream cheese and heavy cream with Splenda and flavoring (cocoa or vanilla+orange extract, usually). Mix, dollop into tablespoon-ish pieces, freeze pieces. Just if it helps. 🙂

                • Recent research indicates that the sugars created in the agave cactus do not trigger blood glucose boosts but have the effect of moderating the absorption. [Search Engine] it for yourself; I recommend the phrase “Drinking tequila helps lose weight.”


                  As always, YMMV.

      • Polliwog the 'Ette

        Exactly. No one is stopping the lady from writing the letter and she knows she has no intention of writing one herself unless forced to do so.

        • SHE doesn’t want to write letters. She wants to continue using the convenience of email while knowing that there are letter writers out there.

      • Or making “letter boxes” (stationary, envelopes, a selection of cards, a pack of Forever stamps) and giving them as gifts.

        They’re not actually that expensive– I pick cards that are made in the USA, but the dollar store has those, and if you watch Staples and the office stores you can get nice stationary sets for cheap. Craft stores have the glorified shoe boxes frequently on sale, too.

        That, along with a “Lady’s Repair Kit*,” make awesome wedding gifts.

        * All the basic things you need for basic house stuff– a screwdriver set, a couple of adjustable wrenches, one of those wrenches for dealing with kitchen sink plumbing, a little hammer, one of those big “all the little nails and screws and picture hanging bits” sets. With, if you can find it, the ends dipped in pink rubber dip.

    • Exactly. I have David Gingery’s books on building your own machine shop. I could buy all the pieces but for me the journey is the point.

      That said, I completely understand someone needing a part not wanting to bother learning casting and machining and doing so by making their own, relatively primitive, equipment. They just want a damn part and will take advantage of a company that can afford a CNC machine setup to make 1000 in the time it would take me to make one.

    • Let’s be just. There are a few network issues. How can you send your children out to play with the neighborhood children if their parents are all helicopters? How can you strike up a conversation with someone absorbed in texting?

      Not for all them, sure.

      • There are a few network issues. How can you send your children out to play with the neighborhood children if their parents are all helicopters?

        Or worse, they are actually violent thugs.

        I’m still kind of scared by the number of people who don’t realize that yes, kids can be vicious, deadly thugs.

        Especially if your kid signals “prey” to them, say by being a kind, trusting and generous person.

        The physical power difference between a five year old girl and a ten year old boy is rather amazing.

        • Take the helicopter parents whose little darlings can do no wrong, at least not when any outsider claims that wrong happened, that it’s now pretty impossible for any outsiders (police etc maybe, but even they are taking a huge risk, the end result might be riots especially if the kid belongs in any protected class) to discipline that vicious little thug even if caught right in the act, at least if that act hasn’t yet gotten quite far enough to cause actual physical damage to the victim, and the fact that kids generally will be given even way more chances than adult criminals, who can also be given more than a few chances since everybody should have the chance to fix their lives, and okay, the combination can give more than ample fodder for horror stories, both real and imaginary.

          • Yeah.

            Like the bully who hauled six year old me off the monkey bars to administer a beating when he was 14, and they wanted to punish me because I kicked the SOB like he was a deadly threat. (not very effective, other than getting the teacher over there FAST)

            He was to be let go, because he had “known issues.”

            They really wronged him. Died in a bar fight about ten years later. He WAS the bouncer, so he was at least trying…..

          • In fairness, we’ve long had such brats, except that to get away with that kind of conduct they usually had to be the offspring of the town mayor or a local squire. One reason many of America’s early settlers came here was for having run afoul of the local “he can do no wrong” idiot.

        • Feather Blade

          *blinks innocently*…isn’t that why you provide your kids with wooden swords first?

          • Our Iza is a LIIIIIITTTTTLE homicidal….we have foam.

            More seriously, though, we have been in areas where the kids haven’t been taught not to be homicidal.

            It is really freaky scary to realize you have to worry about kids who haven’t hit puberty doing a physical attack on you.

            • “Child gangs” have become a problem in many areas. They’re usually immune from any real punishment, and after living their whole lives in “the system” they know it. Couple that to far too many people who believe children are “innocent” and “do no wrong” and you have a serious problem.

              • Actual gangs have been known to recruit children to run money, drugs, whatever as well as keep lookout for their activities. This form of apprenticeship greatly accelerates the learning curve for new members and helps reduce the incidence of senior members getting caught with their hands dirty.

                N.B., I see recent reports from Europe indicate that the newly arrived migrant refugee camps have become popular recruiting environments for the various criminal organizations operating on the Continent.

            • I remember when I stopped a fifth grader attacking my kindergartner (I was one of the few moms who waited till kids were called inside, but I leaned on the wall reading a book, so I wasn’t immediately obvious) and I told him “no.” From his expression it was obvious he’d never heard the word applied to him. He then said, and I quote “You told me no! You can’t tell me no!” “Watch me. The next level is I march you to the principal’s office for hitting little kids. Human beings don’t do that! Beasts do. Human beings protect the little and defenseless.” He just stared at me like a landed fish. BUT he stayed away from my kid.

              • Then there was my friend Terrell’s 5 year old, who had his father summoned to discuss his son’s beating the snot (as in sitting on top of him and using the parking lot as an anvil) out of a third grader “because he was mean to me.”

                This was in AL so they interviewed the other kids and found out this third grader had been beating up the other kids for a week before deciding to take on Marshall…. They expelled the third grader and left Marshall alone (mid-90s).

                • Oh, yes. Robert was consistently beat on by the school bully, the only kid bigger than him. Because we’d told him not to hit (he had almost sent a friend’s son to the hospital when he was 3 and weighed 60 lbs of lean muscle) Robert just put up with it. We didn’t know it was happening till this precious flower (only son, helicopter parents) broke Robert’s glasses and VISIBLY bruised him in the privates (in fourth grade) at which point we told Robert to fight back. Robert wiped the floor with him. THEN we were called in, of course, even though his beatings of Robert had gone ignored.
                  We ah… explained. So calmly that in future when principal saw us come into the school, she’d run out to apologize, including one time we were picking the kids up early to take them on a trip. 🙂

              • Of course the fifth grader stayed away from your kid — that kind of craziness might be contagious.

  12. As Patrick O’Brien put it (via Dr. Stephen Maturin), he was “that mumping villain Rousseau.” Burning in effigy is a bit too good; perhaps he could be immortalized in bronze next to Joseph Campbell and in a location convenient to the nearest dung heap and pile of rotting vegetables… After the return to ‘nature’ of course.

  13. Nothing makes a leftist more reliably huffy than pointing out that you can’t run a homeless shelter without amenities — required by law to make it “fit for human habitation” — that royalty had to do without a few centuries ago.

    Some say, well, ask the poor whether they are managing — and the obvious retort, namely that shows it’s their minds not their material goods that is the problem — and it gets worse.

    • A few centuries? Try ONE. We’re THAT close…

      • The poor often have many amenities that were not available a century. It’s whether they are legally required that I doubt.

        • Shelter have to be built to code, so that means indoor plumbing, electricity and running hot and cold water.

          All upper class, or upper middle class, luxuries a century ago.

    • it’s their minds not their material goods that is the problem

      Amen to that. Someone I know is going through an awful situation — he’s got mental illness with co-morbid alcoholism, plus diabetes and other issues. And his family is so dysfunctional he’s literally better off away from them, so he’s homeless too, and has a criminal record thanks to having no resources to fight a family member’s false accusations (the public defender told him to just plead guilty to get a lesser sentence and some hope of treatment, rather than fighting it and risk having a draconian sentence). He really needs a wholistic approach that will tackle how everything’s interacting and get all of them under control, but he’s getting places that only deal with one aspect and ignore the others. The homeless shelter isn’t equipped to deal with mental or physical problems, rehab couldn’t deal with his family issues, and nobody’s giving him the diet he needs to control his diabetes.

      Mental illness is a huge cause of long-term homelessness. We’re making progress on treating mental illness, but a huge amount of it depends on having a stable home situation so the person gets their medicines on a regular schedule and someone is watching for symptoms reoccuring (since one of the first things to go during a relapse is one’s ability to judge one’s own state of health).

      • But the leftists will tell you people have a right to reject treatment and be homeless. Right now the ACLU is fighting (with an assist from the mayor of NYC) an order by the governor to get all homeless to shelters if the temperature falls below 32F:

        http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ex-nyclu-head-cuomo-order-homeless-lacks-authority-article-1.2484304

        Compassion is letting the mental ill free to death because “that’s their choice”.

        Interesting the choices the left values, isn’t it. Any choice that involves death is okay but others need government guidance.

        • Exactly — I am very grateful that a close family member had enough of his wits around him to realize that something was very wrong with his brain and sign himself into the psychiatric ward, because involuntary commitment is almost impossible. Yes, there were some grotesque abuses, so there need to be procedures in place to make sure that people can’t involuntarily commit a relative simply for being difficult or disagreeable, but there needs to be some way to make sure that people who need a structured residential care environment will get it, and not be left wandering the streets because they can’t see that they’re incapable of functioning in society in their current state and they don’t have any family who’ll make sure they get their prescribed meds on schedule, get healthful meals, get regular showers and clean clothes, and stay off the alcohol and street drugs.

  14. Catticus Finch

    As somebody who is technologically disinclined, I can see the appeal of the days before everything was TECHNOLOGY!!! moar! moar! technology! LOL cats speak funny!

    On the other hand, even I will concede that the internet makes my life substantially easier. In fact, it makes my life livable. OK, I would still exist without the internet and I might even be happy, but the internet lets a very reserved person interact with people in a way that she feels comfortable. I can step back and analyze conversations and join them as I am ready. It lets me interact with people from parts of the world I would most likely never have an opportunity to visit. And it sure as heckfire makes my research a lot easier. A lot.

    As for those advocating that we strip away all technology and go frolic about through nature in our pure forms – don’t make me laugh. I lived for four months at a campground (I got to live in a cabin and not a tent, so call me lucky) and had to walk half a mile to get running water and get to the bathroom. That was an inconvenience I would rather avoid in the future. But I have people who have never even done that lecturing me about the need to return to nature in its primitive state. To which I usually respond, “Great. You go and show me how it’s done. Come back to me when you’ve experienced the primitive nature in all its beauty with hypothermia and hungry animals who think you’re the entree.” People who haven’t been stalked by a mountain lion on their way to the bathroom need to GTFO with their superiority of the primitive lifestyle.

    I lived for eight years without air conditioning or a working heater. I consider myself fortunate to be currently in a house that has both. I can’t afford to run them as I would like, but they are there when I absolutely need them. That’s it’s own sort of happiness and I won’t trade that for all the platitudes from sanctimonious idiots.

    Besides, if it weren’t for modern medicine, I’d be dead.
    /end of rant

    • There was a comment thread I came across on the internet a while ago where people conjectured whether they’d be on the cart or pulling the cart (as in the “Bring out your dead!” bit from Holy Grail) based on what childhood diseases and accidents they’d had vs. what was curable back before modern medicine. I think it also branched into dead, alive, or crippled and begging. Suffice to say those lucky or hardy enough to still be pulling had quite a lot of passengers on the cart…

      • I’d never have made it past three. Even with antibiotics and at least a semblance of modern medicine it was a close enough thing that my parents threw an enormous party for my third birthday, when it looked like I might live after all.

      • I should design that as a test for this site.

      • My mother would have died of rheumatic fever so I never would have been born.

        • I was just thinking about the bout of pneumonia when I was seven, or the six-month strep infection when I was 14. But you’re right, I would never have been born. My mother would have bled out birthing my older brother.

          • Free-range Oyster

            My birth nearly killed my mother: human bodies are not made to handle uterine inversion. The quick-reacting doctor saved her in the moment (and nearly got pounded by my father, who didn’t know why the doc was suddenly shoving his arm in up to the elbow…) but without modern medicine I doubt she’d have survived the recovery, much less been capable of carrying my siblings.

      • I wouldn’t have made it to the cart as a separate entity. I’d have been on there unborn with my mother.

  15. Sarah,

    I am delighted and honoured to have inspired a section of one of your blogposts for a second time. I have to say I’m very impressed by the way you move to attacking yet another bloc of people (un-named, unidentified) who follow some terrible philosophy without even realising it. It’s also a clever continuation of your tactic of critiquing unnamed, unidentifiable targets who will never even know what you said about them.

    • Giggles, you aren’t that important. And a list of people who use Rousseau’s idiocies as axioms would be tedious and unnecessary. Anyone intelligent who has been paying any attention can generate a list of their own in seconds. For example, every member of the global warming cult. The idea that some point in the mid-to-late 19th century the Earth was at the ideal temperature and that any deviation from that was both worrying and our fault is ridiculous.

    • Hurts to recognize yourself in the mirror, doesn’t it.

      No go crawl back under your bridge, troll.

      • The Other Sean

        Frankly, I was hoping he’d go back to make trollhouse cookies.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Can trolls be fended off by throwing them a few of those cookies, or does that just breed dependency?

          • Aren’t leftists dependent by nature?

            • The Other Sean

              Kinda/sorta. A large number of leftists are independently wealthy, but that could almost be described as another form of dependency. And they often didn’t own it themselves, but inherited it, so one could see them as dependent upon the past labor of their ancestors.

              Although to some extent, aren’t we all dependent upon our families, at least early in life? Maybe that’s too different to count though.

    • Definitely was on the dog chow diet.

      Also,Mark, the train is fine.

    • Aren’t you part of the recent spate of white supremacist trolls?

      • +1 for a witty retort. With the clever callback to the last thread, it’s definitely the best of the bunch.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          The difference between the nineteenth century democratic Democrat gun control advocate and the twenty first century democratic Democrat gun control advocate is that the former is called a white supremacist and the latter is called a leftist. If the distinction is merely cosmetic, as suggested by recent leftist burnings of minority neighborhoods, than the leftist has no grounds to object.

          You have said a number of things that are suggestive of your politics.

          This much is very clear to almost everyone here.

          Does your endorsement constitute a concession that you are a white supremacist troll?

          • Bob, you may think that I’ve said a number of things that are suggestive of my politics, but if so you’ve interpreted them badly wrong.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              You have been enthusiastically defending the same ground the de facto white supremacists need held.

              Your claims of innocence would be more credible if you could list certain recent incidents where minority neighborhoods were burned, and provide a detailed explanation of how you did not help the arsonists in any way. You’ve pissed away most of your chance of convincing us that you are not a dishonest leftist troll, and most dishonest leftist trolls have helped the arsonists.

    • Silly fellow, those of us who have had occasion to actually live in situations (usually temporary) akin to normal life in the early 20th century or even earlier know that Sarah is spot-on in her criticism. And observations about the cluelessness of many people aren’t attacks, however much you folks on the left would like to define them as such.

    • Oh! So you were the woman at Red Robin? Good to know.

    • So, you WERE the woman at Red Robin? Good to know you’re just as much of a wanker in person.

      • Wow, “wanker” is just such an unpleasant personal attack, both on myself and whatever poor woman is the subject of your ire.
        (Also, stealing a clever line from one of your supporters works better if your reply doesn’t line up directly below theirs)

        • But Mark, it’s clearly descriptive in your case. Just another example of you on the left taking being correctly identified as a personal attack.

        • Mark, please, calm down and take a couple of deep breaths.

          The train is still fine.

          • Of course, if he stops concentrating on the train, he might see the wall smeared with “Human debris” of the revolution.

            • Sarah,

              I am frankly disappointed, although not surprised, that you’ve still got no sense of what constitutes reasonable behaviour and that a number of your followers take your lead in throwing around abuse. Foxfier tells me that you “exercise constraint in cases of extreme and unjustified rudeness” so I suppose that your standards for rudeness sit somewhere above “wanker” “dickhead” “fucking”. Of course, I know that your own standards allow you to call someone a “cuntwaffle” or “socialist-cock sucking whores” so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
              If I wanted real, creative abuse I’d just trot over to one of the feistier chan sites and invite some maladjusted teenagers to throw insults at me. Of course, I was under the impression that this site was inhabited by grown adults who could at least disagree with someone without totally losing their sense of civility. Sadly, it appears that with you and many of your commenters I was wrong.

              • Mark, let me be blunt here. You come someplace, accuse the host of being an evilbadhateyhatemonger, and then get up on your moral high horse when they react badly?
                I am not particularly impressed.

              • Mark, as a Progressive you are a vile degenerate, a tyrant with delusions of mediocrity. In a just world the oxygen you are currently using would be diverted to a more productive purpose, like rusting a bridge. There is no point in debating you because you do not reason, only emote. Frankly, anything you are called short of “guest of honor at an auto-de-fe” is being polite.

              • Apparently, Mark, reasonable behavior by your measure means swallowing your insults and snide backhands without complaint. Do not bother to complain that you did not mean any such thing. Your words reek of smug insult delivered in a package of (barely) plausible deniability.

                You are sadly mistaken about “wanker” being unpleasant. It’s merely a descriptive appellation for someone who engages in masturbatory behavior in a public forum (British and Australian vernacular). If you didn’t do that, you wouldn’t earn that description.

                I humbly suggest that if you think Sarah is not being restrained right now that you take yourself to your safe space with your blankie and suck your thumb and rock for a while to calm yourself because this is restrained. You are throwing insults at a woman who has faced down Communist soldiers with machine-guns, who has lived through the disappearances and suspicious deaths that go with every Communist regime, and lived to see the mass graves unearthed.

                When you have recovered from your palpitations at being subjected to mere swearing (you know, as opposed to being shot at by soldiers in the employ of a despotic regime, or shot at by would-be revolutionaries), I recommend you actually read Marx to see just how much Marxist theology (it’s an insult to philosophy to lump it in with that tripe) has been stealthed into the modern world view. If you are capable of seeing it, then you will find it eye-opening.

                If, on the other hand, you are so degraded as to agree with Marx, there is no hope for you and you should retire forthwith to your safe space and remain there for the duration. Reality is going to traumatize you too much.

                • Kate, clearly mark is deploying a classic Kafka-trap, whereby he insults people but objects to being derided in response. That his insults are so feebly passive-aggressive is irrelevant.

              • Mark, I am frankly not disappointed to observe that you’re arrogant enough to abrogate unto yourself the privilege of defining what constitutes reasonable behaviour in a site in which you are not a regular participant. Had you been here for any reason other than playing school ma’rm you’d have noticed the culture here is one in which the participants engage in a puppyish “rough’n’tumble” wherein we often employ lightly mocking “insults” of a sort not permitted in more priggish cultures, without any taking nor intending of offense.

                Your cultural imperialism is duly noted.

              • Son, if you’d like some real abuse, please join alt.gothic and last two weeks. I’d provide a sample but our hostess doesn’t want that kind of behavior ’round here.

                Don’t worry, though…the train is still fine.

        • “Wanker” is just such an unpleasant personal attack? Hardly. Your knowledge of slang is clearly as inadequate as your grasp of how Liberal Orthodoxies are as much constructed on a foundation of Rousseau’s and Marx’s writing as is modern physics based on Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

          Methinks the protester doth wank too much.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          A 22 minute difference in posting time? Oh, no, NO ONE has EVER posted their comment without refreshing the comments first! NEVER EVER!

          God, what a pathetic attempt.

    • See where I work for a living, while you obviously don’t.

      • Considering that Amanda et al have been intent on attacking my logic, I think it’s only fair to ask how you come to that conclusion based on any of my posts.

        • What logic? Fallacies aplenty, but those do not constitute logic, they are its antithesis.

        • Considering that Amanda et al have been intent on attacking my logic, I think it’s only fair to ask how you come to that conclusion based on any of my posts.

          No, it’s not.

          It’s not “fair” to limit it to how she concludes that “based on any of your posts.”
          There’s a wide range of other sources of information she could draw from, up to and including your mere presence.
          Also, other people pointing out the holes in your logic does not thus justify you asking how someone else came to a conclusion. First, Mrs. Hoyt isn’t in control of us, even though she does exercise constraint in cases of extreme and unjustified rudeness; second, you could ask most any decent question. That doesn’t mean you’ll get an answer you desire.

    • Markymark, I thought you were a nitwit I see you have devolved to rutabaga. Sarah did NOT say “every leftist is a Marxist,” but rather that Marxist theory (which, you complete zucchini, having grown up _in a Marxist country she is completely equipped to recognize) permeates leftist thought and leftist education.

      Most on the left are espousing Marxist (and frankly, in the culture of apology, Maoist) thought and theory, without knowing where it comes from.

      The indoctrinators in the higher education system cannot explicitly say “Marx says,” or talk about the “Historical Dialectic” because if they did parents and donors would lose their shit. But it’s there, it’s clear and it is becoming pervasive.

      Get it now?

      fucking potato.

      • Patrick, why do you so hate vegetables that you so compare them to Mark?

        • I can’t think of anything dumber … Other than Markymark, but there, I’m being “abusive again.”

          If this dickhead thinks THAT was abusive, or the mild kick I gave him yesterday, I wonder what he’d think if I REALLY unloaded, let alone the Katekren …

          • I have notice as the internet has grown the quality of online abuse has gone way down while the complaining has gone way up.

            Maybe it’s because I cut my teeth on alt.gothic and Boston Netgoth but flaming isn’t what it used to be. The days when I’d rejoin a mailing list just to get into a good flamewar are long gone.

          • How about a rock with rabies?

          • Send him to the International Lord of Hate!

          • The Other Sean

            Are you sure he isn’t really Marky-Marx?

        • He was being kind and not resorting to the demeaning term ‘Markcyst’.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Very weak trolling overall. No entertainment value.

      My grade: D-

      • Back in the Old Days we had REAL trolls, who paid attention to their work. Craftsmen who proudly scuttled through the wainscoting of alt.flame.

        Not like the lamers^H^H^H^H^H^Hwankers of today…

        • Feather Blade

          I blame the government education system.

          They never should have taken Shakespeare out of the English classes.

          • Ah, the days of flamewars where you could grade someone’s usage of second person familiar both in grammar and etiquette terms. I miss them so.

    • Mark, it’s not enough that you allow all that sewage on your own blog, yo have to bring the stink here?

    • I have to say I’m very impressed by the way you move to attacking yet another bloc of people (un-named, unidentified) who follow some terrible philosophy without even realising it.

      You might want to go read the Screwtape Letters.

      It doesn’t matter what someone prefers the thing they do to be called– the “labels” (to harken to a recent political turf-battle that played on the theme) describe what’s there.

      If they’re accurate, they describe what is there; if they’re not, then it can be pointed out where the label is incorrect.

      Folks here will know what I’m going to say next, because I do it kinda unilaterally:
      I notice that you didn’t bother to answer her arguments, you just attacked her.

      Going against the person, instead of against the arguments they made, is a bit of a problem.

      • “I notice that you didn’t bother to answer her arguments, you just attacked her.”
        On the contrary, I criticised two of her common tactics in arguing: mislabelling large groups of people; and not identifying her targets so that they are little better than strawmen. A personal attack would be just calling someone a “wanker”.

  16. I think I occupy the middle ground on this issue. I definitely appreciate today’s technology (especially its medicine) and have zero desire to dial back the clock. At the same time — I occasionally wish I could retreat to a monastery (or to Amish country) to escape the noise. And as a teacher, I DO see ways in which technology is impeding my students’ academic progress (see also: their dependence on their calculators for simple calculations and their utter inability to spell). I think the radical environmentalists are bug nuts to demand I turn off my air conditioner, but all the same — I think striking a BALANCE between technology and “nature” is a good idea. And yes: Every individual should be free to decide what that balance means to him.

    Hopefully, that made sense. It’s early (for me).

    • As someone above said, every individual is already free to make that decision. No one forces anyone to use air conditioning, central heat, electricity, etc. That the people complaining about modern technology refuse to abjure it only makes them hypocritical to some extent.

    • Makes sense to me. Rather like I think we have a responsibility of stewardship of the planet… which doesn’t mean not using the resources, but does mean ‘don’t be stupid with what you have manage it well and wisely.’ How we do that? I’ll get back to you when I figure out how well and wisely I will manage my own land.

    • As far as calculators are concerned, there was a study about 10-15 years ago. One group of children were taught arithmetic with a calculator, another taught without. Both groups were then tested and allowed calculators on the test. The group taught without calculators did far better on the test. Now, that isn’t conclusive, especially given how old the study is (perhaps there are better calculators today, or perhaps teachers have gotten better at integrating their use into the curriculum), but it is interesting.

      As far as spelling goes, for me personally, this is an interesting case. I was never a good speller, and when I first got a word processing program with a spell-check, I got worse, because I started considering spelling less important. Then the spell-checks advanced to the “red line” type that gave you instant feedback on if your word was spelled wrong. That instant feedback let me see in real-time what it was that I’d done wrong and gave me a chance to correct it and learn from my mistakes. Now, I can usually go for pages without any red lines other than sci-fi terms and certain proper names. The technology made me a much better speller.

      Finally, I understand the desire to run away to escape the noise, although in my case it isn’t the noise I want to escape but the light. I know the importance of streetlights and why we’re safer now that things are lit up, but when I was a kid, I could see the milky way from my backyard. Now, I’m lucky if I can find the big dipper. It saddens me that my kids will have to go hundreds of miles from home to see the same stars I used to take for granted.

      • The big problem with spelling is that schools no longer teach it. No, really. they don’t correct the kids the first three years, because they want them to learn “naturally.” Older son still suffers from this. Younger son, I was forewarned and jumped on that in pre-school, so he’s fine.

        • The issue of “don’t teach kids because they will learn naturally” is another thing that I suspect can be laid at the feet of Rousseau and his love of the noble savages (well that, and the fact that “letting kids learn naturally” involves a lot less work for the teacher). Don’t get me started on that subject, because I can go on for pages.

          Elementary school teachers seem to believe that if kids were just left to their own devices, they would all have the literary skills of Jane Austen and be doing math and science that would make Einstein envious.

          • Yes, I love that one.

            Archimedes was this close to the calculus when he determined how to calculate the area of the circle. So close, in fact, that it only took another 2000 years for Newton and Leibniz to create it.

            Similarly for algebra we had solutions to the quadratic were know to the Babylonian and it was only a good 3000 years before Galois showed why there was no general solution above the quartic (general solutions to the cubic and quartic found in the interm).

            Yet we expect children to naturally achieve in 12 years what some of the greatest geniuses in the history of mathematics took millenia to do.

            • The calculus class I took in college had a “textbook” that was just pages of problems. Nothing about how to solve them.

              The professor certainly wasn’t going to tell us. Newton and Leibnitz figured it out from scratch, we could too. Or pay extra for his after-hours tutoring. And he *bragged* about his 90% drop-out or fail-to-pass rate.

              I told him that statistic only proved he was a failure as a teacher; it was one of the reasons I got a police escort off the campus of the University of Arkansas.

          • In fairness to elementary school teachers, who are, as a class, not especially bright (nor is that a necessary requirement for teaching at that level, any more than one much be an Iron Chef to convert ground beef into something edible) all they know about the matter is what their education school professors told (told, not taught, because teaching is more difficult) them.

            Yet the presumption serves several purposes, most importantly that of excusing the schools for a child’s failure to learn a damned thing.

            Besides, if an inifinite number of chimps pounding on typewriters can be expected to produce the Complete Charles Dickens, is it really unreasonable to presume a finite number of children might eventually produce an Austen?

          • It’s again the fallacy of seeing how high performers operate and assuming the other class widgets operate the same

            • Have you heard of “whole word reading”?

              Short version, they looked at how folks who love to read and can do it quickly read, and tried to teach kids to do that. (we jump to a lot of conclusions about what a word says, basically–the first and last letter then guess method)

              AFTER that royally failed for reading, they went to math and… did the same thing, looked at how approved, recognized good-at-math folks solved problems, and tried to teach kids that.

              I fully expect that when my kids hit high school they’ll be trying to get kids to be great runners by trying to teach toddlers to run like an olympian sprinter.

              • Feather Blade

                …but those people who love to read and can do it quickly started out by learning phonics and sounding things out… like they used to teach kids to do.

                ugh.

                • I did it with my daughter.

                  Looked at what gave me trouble as a kid (generally? my ability to understand outstripped my ability to READ) and countered it.

                  Now I have a kindergartner who cries when I say no, she can’t keep her bed light on to read to the other kids.

                  • yeah, during that period I gave the younger boy Disney comics. Satisfying plot, but few enough words to keep him practicing and getting better.

                    • The ability to read to the Littles seems to be a big reward for her, although half the time during “quiet time” I’ll walk up stairs and find her laborously reading things outloud to herself for fun.

                    • with your son you might want to try (older) Disney comics when he’s five or six. Boys are usually very visual and love them. … Um… you might kind of accidentally find some in the mail or something, if I can find the address…

                    • We moved, and husband is HOPING to get a new job in Texas. Washington is getting scary, especially when it comes to judges and schooling.

                      (if anybody has prayers to spare, we’d really appreciate them for a good job)

                    • Will pray. I shall email.

                • Yep, and the ones who go on to be really good readers then build up a ton of “sight words” which they recognize instantly instead of bothering to do the sounding-out part (At a guess, most people here, being voracious readers, have a stash of several thousand words like that). And that’s what the idiots tried to do, hopefully* without realizing that it would cripple their ability to read and properly pronounce new words that they have never seen before.

                  * I say hopefully, because ignorance is at least partially forgivable, but if it was done with the knowledge of how it would impair the child in later years, then it’s criminal behavior deserving of cruel and unusual punishment.

              • Oh I remember that. I managed to avoid all the insanity and get taught old school. Ergo learn the shortcut after you know the “always works” way

              • I’m not sure if it was school-taught or self-taught, but $HOUSEMATE learned by a ‘whole-word’ method of some sort and it generally works for him. Except when people get “creative” and modify spellings. The occasional changeout or typo isn’t that big of a deal, but something like qontstant qicqing K’s out and replacing them with Q’s becomes a tedious job of decoding – even moreso than for those of us who (learned to) read phonetically and merely trip over the kwirky, er, quirky spelling.

                • It is a useful tool– especially with all the “cheater words” in English that look at phonics and laugh– but problems like that are an issue.

                • Thing is, if your housemate can puzzle out new words after being given a “whole word” reading education, then he puzzled out the basics of phonics while learning the whole word method, or else would only know the words that were used in the teaching. This is not an exceptionally unusual thing – anyone with a penchant for seeing similarities could do the same, but it goes to show that some people will learn despite the best efforts of educators.

                  Strangely, my father told me he had never learned phonics. The only thing I can think of to explain that would be that his teacher didn’t know how to teach it, and just made it up as she went along.

                • The “whole word” philosophy rears it’s ugly head every other generation or so, usually under different names – like any good progressive philosophy. It’s based on the idea that we can learn written language in the same way we learn verbal language. Neglecting the whole time that written language is an artificial construct imposed over our organic verbal language.

          • were just left to their own devices

            I wonder.. listening devices? Explosive devices? Nuclear devices?

        • And the logical next step in the progression involves ignoring history.

          • Well, if we convince the progtards all their children should develop language on their own we’d fix the listening to their bleetings in one generation and by their own efforts.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I don’t know why I find it hard to spell.

          Sometimes I suspect that I got caught in one of the early “New & Improved” teaching methods that didn’t work for me.

          I can’t “pronounce” words well enough to get the idea of how they should be spelled.

          Oh, I may not know the correct spelling but I “know” I’m not spelling it correctly. [Sad Smile]

          • Another case where Google is your friend. I always have trouble with interchanging vowels, which I blame more on English than on myself. I recall reading somewhere that English is the only language where spelling bees make any kind of sense.

          • The more tired I am, the more vocabulary is my enemy.

            Plus spoonerisms.

            • I not only spell absolutely phonetically when tired — except the sound f is only made by ph apparently, so that people phall phace phirst — but I make word confusions which can ONLY come from somewhere deep in my subconscious. Found when correcting: Discovery is apparently the same as window.

            • I seem to bewilder people by spoonerizing for fun and often. And also completing what seem, to me, to be incomplete intros… “Sweet!” gets “Georgia Brown” and such. Obe of those revealed something by accident. “Hi” “Awatha” gets “I’m fine, thank you.” if someone isn’t paying attention. “Awatha” being just close enough to “How’reyou?” evidently.

              • Well, they do have the reponse cued up in the polite-exchange format.

                Try my husband’s response to “what’s up?” “The sky.” Or he’ll look up and answer “ceiling,” “planes,” “clouds”– gets a laugh, makes their day.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Calculators on a math test help in proportion to the degree that the individuals are unfamiliar with the basic concepts, plus the base of the learning which enables them to do trivial calculations in their head. When I was in school, I could beat most people on the easier problems if they were using the calculator and I wasn’t, because I could do the problems faster than they could punch them in to the calculator.

        Naturally, that changed as the problems got more difficult.

    • Personally, I’m torn on technology. I realize the benefits, and I recognize the drawbacks. Not always, but enough to trouble me. One specific case in point: automatic transmissions.

      They certainly make it easier to drive an automobile. For some people, they make it possible. However, I firmly believe that knowing how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission makes you a better driver, particularly in bad road conditions, even when your vehicle has an automatic.

      I’m torn because, on the one hand, I think there are too many people who just shove it in D and blithely go on their way, paying too little attention to what they’re doing. If they had to demonstrate competence with a manual transmission, I think there’d be fewer of them on the road.

      On the other hand, I’m a firm believer that anything a machine can do for you, it probably ought to do for you. Also, if you don’t have to pay attention to shifting (not that it requires that much attention if you’re competent with it), you have one less distraction while you’re driving.

      Then again, every case is different. When I lived near large-enough bodies of water, I resented power boats and liked sailboats. I prefer acoustic instruments to electric ones. Don’t try to take away my smartphone, though.

      • The folks told my sister and me that they had no problem if we drove automatics the rest of our lives, but we’d learn to use a stick. The reasoning wasn’t even the more direct feel of and for things, but “If something happens sometime and the only vehicle is a stick and you need to get someone to a hospital in hurry, for example, that’s NOT the time to learn.”

        • By that logic, you need to know how to fly a hot air balloon because it might be the only means of transport available.

          • I wonder if I could sell it to my wife that way…

          • There is the little matter of probability. Then, maybe that’s why we watched The Wizard of Oz.

            • Yes, but given the auto sales data of the past few decades a manual transmission car is only slightly more probable than a hot air balloon.

          • No, because manuals are a lot more common than hot air balloons– totally ignoring the frequency that they’ll be the only transit– and the skills involved in driving a manual can make you a better automatic driver, and are very low cost.

            You may not drive the manual very well, but you can drive it, and the habit of listening to the engine is very, very rewarding.

            • $HOUSEMATE was utterly boggled that I’d driven stickshifts for years, but exactly none of the vehicles had a tachometer. “How do you know when to shift?” “By ear.” What amused me was the automatic-equipped vehicle $HOUSEMATE had that did have a tachometer. Why bother? Presumably a standard panel for all, and a choice of transmission. That was in the mid/late 1990’s.

              • I remember one of the old “Cat Talk” columns where someone asked what the purpose of that was, and they replied, It replaced the clock. (Which had moved to the radio.)

              • It’s occasionally useful to see how close you are to redlining the engine, and also if the car is idling too fast or slow.

                Lately, it’s become a thing to have an automatic transmission with “manual mode”; Ghu knows why.

                • If it’s like the one in a Kia, it’s very useful for dealing with snow.

                • It allows them to make a vehicle that will meet the normal expectations of the majority while being less unattractive to the control freaks*. Mine, though, includes something to force people to use the automatic – you can’t put the transmission into the highest gear when in manual mode. Once you reach the top, and you have proven that it will not go into a higher gear in manual mode, if you then switch it to auto, it will kick it up to a higher gear.

                  * No, I really don’t think people who prefer manual transmissions are control freaks. That’s just what I call my one coworker when the subject comes up.

              • The tach is there because it makes the driver feel like Steve McQueen in Le Mans. Sorta the same logic as putting a “Hybrid” label on the back end of a car under the assumption other drivers give a flying furgle what your engine uses, they mostly just want you to realize the bleedin’ light is green and step on the go pedal.


                I am not interested in doing the research to validate this thesis, but I vaguely recall reading that the “cockpit” style of dashboard design became popular around the time of the movie Top Gun.

              • It actually does make sense to put a tach even in an automatic. If the driver is not taught how to tell by ear what overspeeding the engine sounds like, they can damage the engine in taking off quickly. Especially in newer vehicles with 4-cylinder engines. It would be far too easy to take my car’s engine into the red zone if I needed to accelerate up a hill right after starting out. I’ve accidentally gotten it up over 5000 revs more than once.

            • And of course, there’s also this:

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Smartphones?

        Why have a Smartphone when a cellphone does the job. [Wink]

        • And then there’s the other phone on my desk: The (reproduction) candlestick… but the house line(s) are a VoIP setup.

        • because cellphones don’t work anymore, iirc

          oh, you meant PCS phone… nevermind then

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I know you’re trying (very) to be funny but what’s the difference between “cell phone” and “PCS phone”? [Smile]

            • Technically, a cell phone is analog and all the frequencies for them were reassigned a decade ago. “PCS Phones” or “Digital PCS” is what replaced them, and used a different frequency band.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Ah, thank you.

                I know my “cell phone” is digital but I never knew it was a “PCS Phone” or “Digital PCS phone”. [Smile]

                • there was a Big Deal made about it when they first transitioned.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    I vaguely remember the “Big Deal” but the term “cell phone” seems to be more common than the “new term” unless you’re talking about “smart phones”.

      • Not disagreeing with your premise, but on the example of automatic transmissions …

        I have always bought and driven stick (something increasingly difficult/expensive to do.) When my folks stopped driving I was given their car, which has automatic transmission. That is the car I primarily drive because

        My left knee is a rebuilt job, lacking about half the original ligaments. In town traffic can put a strain on that knee which leaves me … very uncomfortable. Constantly pushing and releasing the clutch pedal is something the car with automatic transmission obviates.

        I prefer driving a stick, but my knee has asserted a veto.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          *IF* I ever get a car without Auto Transmission, I want one with the stick on the floor.

          I jammed up too many times with the stick on the steering wheel. [Frown]

        • Back in 2012, I bought a Ford Fiesta with a 5-speed manual transmission. It was about $1000 less than the automatic version. So manuals aren’t always the costlier option.

        • My wife and I are both in that boat; rebuilt left knees that are long out of warranty…

          Not long after we got married she had to drive my car, which had an automatic. She balked. “But I don’t know HOW to drive an automatic!”

          Yep, 35 years on the “starter wife”; where would I ever find another woman who would say something like that?!

          • My sister, for a while, thought I couldn’t drive worth a darn due to ’74 Hornet with an automatic transmission – and me by then very used to a stick. Pawing the air at times for the gearshift that wasn’t there wasn’t so bad, but that wiiiiiiiiiiiiide brake pedal reached right into where my foot would go for the clutch and there were some very sudden stops.

            • I got my motorcycle license at 13, and racked up around 30,000 miles on two wheels before I got my “restricted” car license at 15.

              My Dad probably came close to cardiac infarction a few times as he was teaching me how to drive. I had excellently-developed reflexes; I’d roll up to a stop sign, squeeze the steering wheel with my right hand, and press the pedal with my right foot.

              On a motorcycle, the right foot is normally the brake, not the gas…

      • It’s a tool.

        In a non-traffic place, I prefer manual transmission. Then the main thing I’m dealing with is the driving terrain.

        Anyplace there’s traffic, I want an automatic transmission, because it keeps me from becoming a traffic hazard– it simply takes a lot less time to respond to the light by taking your foot off the brake than it does to take your foot of the brake, hit the clutch and put it in gear, even if you’re AWESOME at shifting.

    • Most of the people around here try not to get to close to the Amish in wintertime. And a guy who taxis them around runs with the driver side window open all year- no matter what it’s doing outside.

    • I occasionally wish I could retreat to a monastery (or to Amish country) to escape the noise.

      You can do that.

      Was listening to local Catholic radio, and they had a nice interview with a monastery that was booked solid for exactly that– people coming to live X days/weeks in the style of the monks. Some was folks trying it out to see if they could hack it, but a lot more was people who just needed to escape the world.

      I think it was part of suggesting various e-fasts as a form of penance…which, incidentally, indicates that the e-stuff isn’t inherent bad, and might even just be an inherent good of which it’s possible to be over-focused on, like sex.

  17. Love the essay, but – Write, Sarah, Write!

  18. c4c

  19. The Other Sean

    Things were better before…. Rousseau. 🙂

    • The Other Sean

      And were worse after. 😦

      • The Other Sean

        Because of Rousseau, I mean, not because of the rest of civilization. The technical advancements since his time have seldom been anything but wondrous. A state of nature is not a desirable state. An occasional break from modernity is OK, but I want my flush toilets, electric lights, hot water, HVAC, computers, and modern medicine. The internet, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, clothes washers and driers, are also greatly appreciated. Road and rail aren’t bad to have around, either.

        • Fasting.

          Call it a technology fast.

          Voluntarily refrain from a thing that is good, to help you appreciate the good thing better. (also helps with self-control)

  20. We lived in a house in central Minnesota on the end of the electric power line. We frequently lost power meaning the well pump didn’t run so there was no water. And the sewage ejector lift pump didn’t run so you dared not flush the toilet. And yes, the furnace was fired by propane, but the electronic ignition sensor wouldn’t work so the furnace wouldn’t light and even if you lit it by hand with a blow torch, the furnace fan would not circulate the warm air to heat the house. The sun rises late and sets early in the winter so the house was always dark. We ate a lot of sandwiches because the microwave was silent, the glass cook-top was cold and worst of all There Was No Coffee. Don’t talk to me about how wonderful it would be to live primitive. Been there, done that, not interested in doing it again.

    • We had a little propane cooker, that third world staple, so at least we didn’t have to go without coffee!

    • I remember growing up on a farm in rural Illinois and having a similar situation. We did have one small oil space heater that didn’t require electricity, so we had a little warmth, but without water or the electric stove, things could get difficult.

      Those memories may be a big reason why I make sure we have propane for our camp stove even when we don’t hav ean upcoming outdoor event.

      • A few years ago, after the big snowstorm, I regained power after a few hours. For the next week, I had a visitor or two every single night — a parent or a sister looking for a shower or a hot meal.

    • Not only that, but you have to have some sort of functioning trade system to *get* coffee, which won’t grow in commercial quantities in the continental United States…

    • Anytime we stay at a hotel, I go to the office-area and fill our coffee pot, then give my folks those stupid coffee pouches.

      Means that we get better coffee (usually the coffee in the office is from filtered water, unlike the room water) and WHEN the power goes out, or folks can throw one of the stupid pouches into a camp pot and have coffee.

      Usually for about half the neighbors…..

  21. From the colophon to the Silos Apocalypse, one of the many manuscripts of St. Beatus of Liebana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse, in part of a note addressed to “whoever reads this codex”:

    “The labor of writing makes one lose his sight. Now it hunches his back, it breaks ribs and bothers the stomach, it pains the kidneys and causes aches throughout the body. Therefore, O reader, you turn the pages carefully and keep your fingers from the letters, because just as hail destroys the fields, a useless reader erases the text and destroys the book.” An earlier part of the note agreed that “Writing is labor and reading is refreshment. The one weakens the body; the other profits souls.”

  22. I used to do business with a wealthy Amish fellow in Ohio. He was smugly self righteous about the fact he had no electric in his house and used kerosene lamps.
    However he had enough money to hire four or five local teenage girls for his wife to use as maids. They slaved away all day cooking and washing, and went home to their families at night for very low wages.
    They hand washed and dried the dishes, dropped the kerosene chandeliers in the dining room and cleaned the soot off and trimmed the wicks and refilled them. Hand swept the floors or scrubbed them.
    All these folks who love the past imagine they will live with some variation of this – that they will be a lord of the castle with servants if not outright serfs seeing to their comfort.
    They ignore the fact that that job description usually included being a hard killer who depended on physical strength and skills with weapons to keep his castle. And like a profession athlete the portion of your life you can do that is limited. You better have a bunch of sons, and be willing to abdicate to one when they are stronger than you.

    • “I hate doing laundry.”
      “No, you hate folding it. The machines do the rest of the work.”

      • To be fair, when I said that in the past I was really saying I hated wasting 2-3 hours at the laundromat. Once I owned my own washer I quit having that complaint.

        • Now, wanting to avoid time in a laundromat I most certainly understand. Even with a book I would be reading anyway, it’s annoying to spend time there.

          • The only surprising thing about the combining of laundromats and bars was that it didn’t occur sooner. So long as you’ve already got a pocket full of quarters, why not play some pinball or Donkey Kong?

            Last time we visited a laundromat was when an extended snow-inspired power outage caught us with a load in the last rinse cycle. Happily, we found a laundromat next door to a public library branch offering internet service.

            • My first apartment was about 500 feet from the laundromat. There was small strip mall at the end of the block I lived on. The cleaning lady I had then did my laundry while cleaning my apartment.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I make jewelry and would bring supplies over to be productive while I worked. Made lots and *lots* of money selling stuff right off the tray… 🙂

        • I would flirt with the cute attendant with the big boobs…….Made the time pass pleasantly.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I’ve been at Laundromats that had no attendants, cute or otherwise.

            Oh, wrong time of the day there were plenty of annoying/annoyed people there as well.

            • Last time we were at one (having to do with a dead machine) there was a couple of ne’er do wells who a) decided Robert and I were boyfriend and girlfriend and b) tried to break us up. It was… amazingly annoying.

          • This was back in the early 80’s, before the advent of cheap machines to make change for the washing machines/dryers. This place kept the attendant busy by doing laundry for folks willing to pay extra. I bet that if it is still in business, it is unattended now….

      • Orvan, don’t take this wrong, but if someone uses that line on me they’ll be doing their own damned laundry, and all the rest that they have to do in order to REACH “just” doing their own laundry.

        Something doesn’t suck less just because someone else had it suck more.

        • As I well know. My last night off I spent doing ALL my laundry, and the sheets, and the towels. I do expect that as AI improves and manipulation gets finer that things will get more automated, but there’s likely a significant time until the “Average Joe” has a laundrybot (or robohousekeeper) as matter of course.

        • little clothes, Fox. I remember searching pockets, pre-washing and folding LITTLE clothes. A normal wash load can contain four times the number of garments to deal with…

          • *steadfastly ignores the table covered with baskets that need to be folded behind her, having been washed, dried, hauled into the livingroom and sorted*

    • MadRocketSci

      My Dad knows an Amish machinist. He apparently gets away with it because he uses a horse-drawn shaft to power his equipment. 😛

      Somewhat cheeky about the spirit of the thing there.

      • Feather Blade

        I’ve seen similar arrangements using bicycles attached to flywheels as the motive force

      • He could use a steam driven system for power and still be in the Amish spirit…….

        • My understanding is that the Amish aversion to modernity owes more to a desire for self-sufficiency than any religious fatwa against the technology. They’re just preppers taking the idea to its logical extension.

  23. The basic questions these morons never seem to consider (and get odd looks when confronted with it) is: “If the state of nature is so superior to what we have now why did we even want to invent all these things?”

    I know, I know, patriarchy but that just moves it back: why did anyone bother inventing patriarchy.

    • One of my “things” is a variation of Chesterton’s Fence:
      Everybody does something for a reason. You should probably figure it out before getting pissed, if it’s not something that requires immediate response. No, ‘because they’re a moron’ isn’t a good reason.”

      I’m aware that some folks are, indeed, morons or insane. There is still usually a chain of some form of logic involved in what they do, and at very least it gives you a better chance at countering them.

      • Free-range Oyster

        I’ve been trying to teach the minions this principle for a while now.
        “[Brother] did [mean thing] for no reason!”
        “No, he had a reason. It may have been a bad one, but everyone has a reason. What do you think it might have been?”
        *shrug* Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the seeds are being planted at least.

        • I shot a man in Reno
          Just to watch him die.
          When I hear that whistle blowin’
          I hang my head and cry

  24. My Father grew up in NYC, in the twenties. They lived in a cold water flat. I wasn’t sure what that was until I asked him, it was just as it sounded: No hot water.
    There wasn’t any heat either, unless you shoveled coal into the stove in the flat. You had to do it yourself, and you had to buy the coal.
    In New York City!
    His twin brother died when he got sick, and they took him to the hospital, where the doctors took a guess on what was wrong with him, and guessing wrong, killed him. They thought he had appendicitis. He didn’t.
    Refrigeration? Nope, they didn’t have that. Air conditioning? Nope, didn’t have that either.
    Children were sent off to farms in the summer to work, or sent off to military programs (my Dad learned to shoot a lee-enfield when he was like ten. It was bigger than he was, and he actually became a marksman, while spending the summer at a military base with lots of other kids. The US Army actually used to do this – maybe this one thing was better).
    There are more stories I could tell about just how hard life was, in the middle of the biggest and fanciest city in the United States, but just imagine how much worse life was, for those people living out ‘in the sticks’. Who didn’t live in the height of culture and society.

    I used to own and train big cats, and I can’t tell you the number of people who always used to tell me that my cats would be happier ‘living free in the wild’. I always used to offer to shoot them up with a couple of diseases, infect them with parasites, strip them naked, and dump them in the middle of nowhere, so they could experience ‘living free and wild’, instead of spending their days in a ‘cage’ at work, and then in a ‘cage’ at home all night.
    Interesting enough, no one ever took me up on that.
    Wild animals don’t die of old age, they die because something killed them, and that includes the biggest and baddest predators of all.
    The same was true for the majority of people back in those ‘better’ times, you didn’t die of ‘old age’, and dying at the age of twelve because your doctor messed up, was considered to be ‘death by natural causes’ and no, you couldn’t sue or even file a complaint.

    • I recall my grandfather, born in 1910, saying “icebox” for ‘refrigerator’. I’m sure there were other things, but I only recall a few things now as it’s been over thirty years now.

      • I had an icebox in 1957 in Los Angeles granted we were poor but

        • I’m doing a book for an elderly guy, who remarked on how ice used to be delivered when he was a boy, and how he still calls the refrigerator the “ice-box.” My grandmothers did so as well, IIRC.
          You might be astonished to know how ice was a huge business, in the mid-19th century, and how elaborate the home “ice boxes” were, late in that century.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            The place where my Dad worked for many years was next to a business that delivered ice.

            Note, it’s gone now and I don’t remember when it closed down.

          • I recall, during a youthful reading of biographies of notable atheletes, learning about Red Grange, the “Galloping Ghost” and first national professional football star, and how he built his strength and durability delivering ice blocks in (IIRC) Chicago, hauling the blocks up multiple flights of tenement stairs (not always the most stable of walkways) using naught more than a pair of ice tongs. All Day Long.

          • In a remarkable coincidence, I was just thinking today about the ice-making machine from “The Mosquito Coast.”

          • I say “icebox” half the time, to indicate the one over the fridge, because I grew up with my dad calling it an “icebox.”

            They still have the actual “icebox” that he grew up with as a kid, which was converted to work with electricity at some point, and worked well into the 90s.

      • The Other Sean

        Until well into the 1930’s, ice was a big business. Even before there were industrial ice-making plants, there were the lake-ice business, where ice was cut from frozen lakes in winter and stored in insulated warehouses known as ice houses. Ice could then be shipped from the ice house when needed. It would be shipped out from the ice house at the lake via train or boat, to ice houses in cities and towns far from the lakes. There, it was distributed locally as needed by horse teams, electric trolley, and/or auto trucks.

        Early refrigeration technology wasn’t great for small scale use (especially before widespread electrification). For a few decades after refrigeration was invented it wasn’t uncommon for the ice houses to stay in business, just substituting ice they manufactured for shipped-in lake ice. The transition took a while, but virtually wiped out the ice business. There’s still some firms that manufacture ice and supply it to supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. so that it can be used for parties, sporting events, camping, fishing, special events, etc. but nothing like used to exist before.

        • I’ve actually been to a real functional ice house, back in the sixties up in Pennsylvania. They’re actually dangerous places to work once the summer comes.
          And yeah, when my dad was a kid, they still used ice boxes.

          • Lots of people still use iceboxes. They just don’t think of them that way.

            Consider Ye Aulde Styrofoame Cooler…

            • And there tends to be an ice-making company in good sized towns that does a side business in dry ice.

          • There are still ice houses in business, but not many. These days, it’s mostly a luxury good – because of the way the ice freezes, it’s clear below the top few inches, which makes it desirable for high-end bars to use in drinks.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              There’s also supplying ice for ice sculptures, because it takes a bit of a process to produce large blocks of completely clear ice.

    • Remember, WWI started in large part because von Moltke the younger claimed the telegraph and phone systems of the time would not permit tueninbg the armies around.

    • My grandfather died while my mother was still a girl. He was lucky to have survived as long as he did — rheumatic heart disease.

  25. I confess to often wishing I lived back “in the good old days,” but when I say that I’m talking about the time when our society actually believed in hard work and personal responsibility, and people weren’t afraid of half of what they came across and offended by the other half. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I give up modern technology and modern medicine.

    • Free-range Oyster

      There are a great many desirable things in the past that we lack now. To the best of my knowledge, every last one of them is cultural, and they came along with elements that would horrify a modern person. Science and technology in their myriad applications have made the physical world we live in safer, more comfortable, more hospitable to the life of man and beast alike. I’m grateful to live in a world where I can pick and choose the things of the old days to shoehorn into the modern one, without the pain, danger, and misery that came with those eras.

  26. As a kid in the ’50s I remember the fear that clutched at my and most of my friends’ folks over Polio and other nasty childhood diseases. Still have the Salk Polio vaccination scar on my left arm, and remember when our entire town lined up at the grade school to be counted off the list and given the blue sugar cube with the Sabin oral Polio vaccine.
    Most summers we would drive from northwestern Illinois across several states to visit my aunt in northern Utah. Every little town along the two lane federal highway had a population sign and right next to it a water supply approved marker so you knew their water was safe to drink.

    • I think you’re thinking smallpox vaccination scar. Salk is just a shot. Smallpox was a bunch of little punctures that left a round circular scar.

      • Sounds like it to me, too. I was born rather later, but it was still well before the declaration of Victory over Smallpox so I have this little mark – that those much younger do not.

        • After 9/11, my mother was tried to remember if I was vaccinated against smallpox. My older sister was, younger not, but I was on the transition.

          One day I noted the upper arm scar and pointed it out to her.

          • I don’t have that scar. I got the vaccine, but by that time I’d had what was almost certainly smallpox. Instead, I have a pox mark on the edge of my upper lip. Grandma did something to the poxes on the face so I had no scarring. I remember it hurt like hell, because I remember screaming. Whatever it was, they didn’t do it near the lip, perhaps because I was screaming with open mouth and they were afraid I’d eat it. I do have marks on my belly, but they aren’t really noticeable and weren’t when I was young and wore bikinis.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Might have been Cowpox, which is what the Smallpox vaccine was made from in the first place.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                I don’t have the smallpox vaccine scar because it didn’t take either of the times they gave it to me.

              • Killed 2/3 of kids too young for school/unvaccinated. My son says from the distribution and the symptoms, almost for sure smallpox. Surely one of the last epidemics to sweep Europe.

                • Two-thirds of those who got it died (or 2/3 of the children who got it died)??? I knew smallpox was bad, but I hadn’t grasped how bad–or was this a particularly bad strain?

                  We lived closer to the coast than where we live now until I was ten. One of the high school girls used to babysit my sister and myself; she said one arm was shorter than the other from polio. I could never tell which one.

                  • Two thirds of the kids who got it died. But the only people who got it really bad were the kids too young to enter school. The problem is Portuguese words for various poxes are all very loose and, well, it was the village, so….

                  • Smallpox is bad. They held off on our deployment vaccination until we were out to sea just so we wouldn’t spread it to civilians. Just the one vaccination site made for a pretty miserable week. Having that over most of one’s body while suffering the fever and dehydration from a systemic infection? I would have been begging for death.

                    • I know they thought I was going to die and they went a little batty, including wrapping everything in red flannel, which was how it was treated in Elizabethan England.
                      Mom says she gave me a watch works and told me it was a piece of the sputnik and if I didn’t get better I wouldn’t get to go to space. I slept holding it till I was out of danger.

          • The lady who played Kira on Deep Space 9 has a smallpox vaccination scar– it was odd enough that they had to mention it it one of those “behind the scenes” interview things, where you find out stuff like “Scotty lost a finger in WWII.”

            Incidentally, most of the military now has those scars as well. In a few decades it will be an awesome identifier of military/ high terror risk first responder.

        • Feather Blade

          My mother tried to get all of us kids vaccinated for smallpox, but it wasn’t available to the general public by that point.

          I suspect the only one of us who is vaccinated is my .mil brother.

          • One of the things that us paranoid .mil both active and retired types are really fearful of is that the bad guys will get some smallpox samples from storage and let it loose on the world. They’ve been talking about destroying the last (known) samples in the world since at least 1993. Then there’s this from 2014 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/smallpox-vials-found-in-storage-room-of-nih-campus-in-bethesda/2014/07/08/bfdc284a-06d2-11e4-8a6a-19355c7e870a_story.html I have a vague memory of there being samples in Tehran when the Shah was in power. I suspect there are unknown caches about.

            Active duty are still, to my knowledge, receiving smallpox vaccinations. But why, if there is no smallpox? Yeah, uh huh.

          • If you are interested, try to get it again– ask your doctor, random pharmacists, etc.

            If anyone hassles you, look serious and explain that you want to be able to be a first responder in case of emergency.

            Most because it’s true– you’d help out if something went wrong, right?– and because it’s a reason and might get you the information you want.

            • A few years ago, my doctor here in Plano ran some kind of blood test that checked whether or not my immunity to several diseases (measles, mumps, diptheria, three or four others) was still up to par, and re-immunized me for anything that needed a booster.

      • Yep, you’re right.
        In my defense it was something like 50 years ago, and my focus was more on the doctor repeatedly sticking me with that damn needle. He did trouble himself to make the scar in a diamond pattern.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      One of my cousins had Polio when he was younger. I didn’t know something about that until he posted about it on Facebook a few years ago – there’s something called “Post-Polio Syndrome” which flares up every once in a while and causes a whole lot of pain for the polio survivor. (Shudder)

  27. I have to disagree. I miss letters. They get passed down in a way email does not. I have my grandmother’s love letters to my grandfather. I wish she hadn’t burned the letters he sent her. But had they texted or emailed, all of that would be gone. Grandmother had Issues. They could probably be diagnosed accurately from those letters. (She was a Progressive, okay? Back when being a Prog meant eugenics was the future, of course she had Issues.)
    Same for devices, but that’s a failure of basic manners. You have to beat it into their heads that the phones go off when we’re face to face. I expect to see a lot of nostalgia for pre-cell days until it becomes acceptable to require good manners again.
    In the mean time, “if you young folks don’t stop texting and turn to Phillipians NOW I am going to take your phones away until the end of Sunday School. You’ve had your five minutes to tell the layabeds to get up and get to Church!” Says I, every Sunday at 9:50 am.

    • You have a point. Future historians will have a much more difficult task of understanding our time due to the relative lack of recoverable correspondence.

      • Difficulty? Won’t they just log on to the NSA servers and have all the emails and texts at their fingertips?

        If I were king for a day – I would fully fund the NSA servers – but not any access to them. Emails become public domain 50-100 years after they are sent. 🙂 (quasi-sarcasm)

      • Naah, they will just ask the WSA’s GoogleSoft AI for a copy of all the emails from the old NSA archive.

    • I write letters. With a fountain pen, ink from a bottle. It’s relaxing, and a lot easier on my aging hands than a pencil or ballpoint.

      There’s no reason why anyone can’t write letters, the post office still works, more or less.

      Whether or not anyone might or might not be willing to spend the time is another issue altogether.

      • I tried a fountain pen in what I suppose was a bit of an affectation, like when I had a pocket watch. I could never get the hang of it.

  28. Even Thomas Jefferson appeared to favor Locke over Rousseau…

  29. Rousseau’s ideas, and Marx’s, are in the intellectual air we breathe, as lead used to be, and are at least as harmful.

  30. What kills me (figuratively, though not quite yet literally) is how modern-day Marxists (who don’t know they are marxists) smother themselves in a grotesque caricature-patina of compassion. Everything — every thieving of liberty — is always done in the name of something or someone less fortunate, less well off, less able, less monied, less “privileged,” and so on and so forth. This is true for cultural Marxists, as well as economic Marxists. We must tear down the achievers, to make the non-achievers “equal.” We must make the independent prostrate and defenseless before the system, so that all are therefore “in need” of sustainment by government programs.

    Which will not, of course, apply to our betters in the ruling class. They will be excepted, as they always have been, always are, and always will be. Rules are for little people. And the Marxists-who-don’t-know-they’re-Marxists not only applaud this, they consider it the inevitable and just conclusion of ten thousand years of tortured ascent to Socialist Nirvana. Nevermind the hundred million ghosts of the gulags across Europe, Asian, Latin America, etc. This time, we’re going to get it right.

    Anyone caught criticising or deviating from this gospel, is a racist, a sexist, and a dozen different varieties of fatal “phobe.”

    • Crab Bucket Compassion.

    • Marxists are a prime example of what I’ve come to call Miltonian Satanists. If you consider them as the heirs of Milton’s Satan the USSR, PRC, and even Pol Pot’s massacres make sense and are rational in terms of the desired objective.

      • Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven?

        • Feather Blade

          Heh… thy’re deluded enough to think they’d rule in hell…. * snerk *

          • And exactly again…as I’ve said come the revolution my greatest consolation is the old conservatives just get jailed until they’re too old to yell and are often released.

            Young liberals, however, who were the shock troops of the revolution are too dangerous to keep (they did it once they might do it again). I look forward to hearing many of my (soon to be former) cellmates screaming “But I supported the revolution” as the firing squad lines up.

  31. I have lived without electricity, water, and inside toilets. They are work intensive … no time to rest or relax. I have washed clothes in ditches and boiled water so that we could drink it. IMHO anyone who thinks we should go back to those days especially if they haven’t experienced it– are CRAZY and should be institutionalized.

  32. In fairness to that girl and her mum, there is downside to technology, albeit not the ones they recognized. Most people were scarcely bothered to write letters before the internet (I recall news articles about letter-writing being a dying art) and there were families aplenty who managed whole days without any communication. When Xerox was beta-testing their first photocopiers the danged things would breakdown regularly — when they weren’t overheating and bursting into flames — yet when they went to pull the test models from offices the clients not only resisted, they asked for more, to cover the down-time while waiting for the repairman, because carbon paper, mimeograph and hand copying were so much more tedious.

    Before word processors a change in a single word meant retyping an entire page, if not document. Why, people used to write school papers longhand and pay somebody to type them up. We won’t even go into the difficulties of researching, with every “good” home having to buy an encyclopedia or two, plus keep up with the annuals so the information didn’t become too outdated.

    But with cell phones and GPS it is much, much easier for the authorities to keep track of you, to surveil where you are and when. They can monitor your communications and record that information in easily accessed storage, too. They can read your email, track what websites you visit and, thanks to modern camera and data storage capability, the government, that Big Friendly Giant, can track everywhere you go without having to leave their desks. What a brave new world we live in!

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Just watch Person of Interest. You’ll want to go and hide in a cave after a few episodes.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      Why, people used to write school papers longhand and pay somebody to type them up.

      I came in on the tail end of that and have fond memories. $1 per page typed, $2 per page corrected, $2.50 for typed, corrected, and edited into something appealing…

      • When I first taught, I still mimeographed tests. I used to dream of having a mimeograph machine so I could publish a fanzine. Eh. Now I could print it out easily and look how I’m not doing it. Life is weird.

    • “But with cell phones and GPS it is much, much easier for the authorities to keep track of you, to surveil where you are and when. ”

      Yes and no. It’s much easier for the government to track where your *cellphone* is, and such technology makes the authorities less adept at traditional tracking.

      • Bruce Schneier wrote about a community that used RFID chips to identify individual trash cans, and some kind of detector system in the garbage trucks that identified “bad” trash (electronics, paint cans, etc,) that was used to add punitive fines to peoples’ trash bills.

        Schneier’s solution: put that kind of trash in a neighbor’s can…

        • Computers are dumb – all they really do is basic arithmetic very rapidly – which means that outsmarting technology, and the idiots that rely on technology, isn’t all that hard.

          • Until the Party member / neighbor says “I didn’t buy paint / electronic gizmo / whatever was found in my trash” and some data miner decides to make an example of you and cross references the purchasers of said item against the surrounding addresses.

            It wasn’t feasible 20 years ago; it is today, and all it takes is one bureaucrat deciding to entertain itself……

          • Hey now, they do a bit more than that…in theory they can solve anything in the class of computable functions. Sure, they do it via basic arithmetic but that’s still a very, very impressive function.

        • This is kind of like how the car that was under a barn at the time got ticketed for crossing a bridge on the far side of the state, I think…..

          Ranch car. AKA the Mouse Car, because a dead weasel flew out the tail pipe when we first saw it started and mice would come sit on the passenger seat while you drove. A glorified version of the ranch motorcycle, much better for not dying in winter going to the far side of the valley.

          Washington State STILL insists that it was crossing that bridge, though!

        • I have one of my neighbors take in my trash can for me on trash days (pickup is in the morning after I leave for work), because twice I’ve come home and found that someone put their trash into my can after the pickup occurred. Having someone else’s trash filling my can for a week is not something I find pleasant.

      • I recall the occasional discovery of a GPS tracker on a vehicle and one fellow trying to sell such on eBay and getting told that the gift (it was left on his property) was still gov’t property and he couldn’t do that. While I have no reason to expect I’d be a person of interest to track such, I figured the best thing I could do such a device if I found one was to give it a ride.. by balloon, to where-the-photon-ever.

        • JB Weld it to the sidewalk.

          • And have a fixed position? I could mail it. Or attach it to the Sheriff’s car. Or box it up and leave it to be destroyed as a suspicious package. Though the greatest bit is beyond me: clone it and make more with the same ID and haul each to a different location in Faraday cages or such – and have them ‘released’ at times that would show impossible transit times. If these should be plotted onto a map and happen to spell a (rude) message, well…

            • A fixed position is just as erroneous as a spoofed one. Plus it would probably give you a longer lead time before they figured out it wasn’t tracking you.

              • Faraday cage it, drive it to a place you would never normally go, and leave it there (while resisting the temptation to booby trap it), then drive home.

                Alternate method, if available: Drive somewhere that there are curves with cliffs or steep hills that a car could fall down, and throw it out the window.

        • I wonder how “abandoned property doctrine” applies to such gifts.

          For that matter, I wonder about “re-gifting” it to the local mayor’s vehicle, or perhaps a fire truck.

          If they argue that it is not abandoned then you ought be able to charge rent for storage of the device.

        • I’d be tempted to drop it in a box, ship it somewhere by UPS, with the recipient instructed to ship it somewhere else, etc etc, preferably around the world a few times.

          • Take it by the local truck stop and see if you can slip it onto one of the trucks.

            • the truck, or the trailer? or, if certain trucks, the shipping container? Bet they’d have fun explaining how your car is in china.

    • Yes, there are a lot of ways to track someone.

      The “fun” part comes in trying to tie all those ways into one “unit,” correctly.

      Even with paid services, I couldn’t find only me before I got married– since my name change, I “only” have to worry about a relatively few folks.

      Oh, one of the guys I am in contact with, because of the plethora of ways to track folks, is a person whose nickname matches my initials, and we have the same maiden name. Both Navy. Both enlisted techies.
      Haven’t gotten anything for my doppelgänger from Navy tech school, though. (She had the middle name I was going to have, before my mom’s favorite relative died; other than that… same hair, same glasses AFTER we got non-BCGs, same build, she was an inch taller, both rural.)

      • I have a clone too. We’re the same age within a few days, have the same hairstyle, and even the same beard. Some Federal buildings and airports have been running facial-recognition systems since the early ’90s; every time I walk into one of those places I keep wondering when some zealous Feral agent sees his display go “TILT!” and thinks he’s just nabbed Hassan Nasrullah, head of the Hezbollah…

        • Wow.

          You’re probably safe on the Dolly Parton defense, but wow.

          (Apparently she stays in Hotel 8 and such, and gets a lot of folks who ask her if she’s been told how much she looks like Dolly Parton who would OF COURSE never be in a place like that.)

  33. Before the internet I went to libraries and xeroxed articles for busy grad students. Teaching and learning and maybe another job or family responsibilities, left little time to hunt articles in person.

  34. We had the Mormon Battalion reenactment group at the park for our Veterans Day event, and I spoke with a couple of ladies who were showing period food processing and prep equipment. (They even had a vintage grain mill.) Guests who they were talking with seemed shocked by the amount of time spent in acquiring and preparing food even a hundred years ago.

    The ladies and I agreed on the fact that while knowing how to do that is cool, it’s even cooler to be able to go to the supermarket and not have to do it.

  35. The sad thing is we’ve already tried that experiment once in my lifetime (yes, I wasn’t aware at the time but I was alive in the late sixties) and the results were chronicled quite succinctly by Tom Wolfe:

    In 1968, in San Francisco, I came across a curious footnote to the psychedelic movement. At the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot. And how was it that they had now returned? It had to do with the fact that thousands of young men and women had migrated to San Francisco to live communally in what I think history will record as one of the most extraordinary religious experiments of all time.

    The hippies, as they became known, sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero. At one point Ken Kesey organized a pilgrimage to Stonehenge with the idea of returning to Anglo-Saxon civilization’s point zero, which he figured was Stonehenge, and heading out all over again to do it better. Among the codes and restraints that people in the communes swept aside—quite purposely—were those that said you shouldn’t use other people’s toothbrushes or sleep on other people’s mattresses without changing
    the sheets or, as was more likely, without using any sheets at all or that you
    and five other people shouldn’t drink from the same bottle of Shasta or take
    tokes from the same cigarette. And now, in 1968, they were relearning . . .
    the laws of hygiene .. . by getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot.

    This process, namely the relearning—following a Promethean and unprecedented start from zero—seems to me to be the leitmotif of our current interlude, here in the dying years of the twentieth century

    He would go on to link it to Marx:

    In politics, the twentieth century’s great start from zero was one-party socialism, also known as communism or Marxism-Lenin-ism.

    Today the relearning has reached the point that even ruling circles in the Soviet Union and China have begun to wonder how best to convert communism into something other than, in Susan Sontag’s phrase, successful fascism. The great U.S. contribution to the twentienth century’s start from zero was in the area of manners and mores, especially in what was rather primly called ‘the sexual revolution.’ In every U.S. hamlet, even in the erstwhile Bible Belt, may be found the village brothel, no longer hidden in a house of blue lights or red lights behind a green door but openly advertised by the side of the road with a 1,000-watt back-lit plastic sign: Totally All-Nude Girl Sauna Massage And Marathon Encounter Sessions Inside.

    But in the sexual revolution, too, the painful dawn has already arrived, and the relearning is imminent. All may be summed up in a single term, requiring no amplification: AIDS.

    The Great Relearning is a b!tch when the people who need it think they already know everything.

    • At the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot

      TRYING to be fair, an awful lot of modern “diseases” are really just a description of the symptoms.

      I say TRYING because even more than usually for my “to be fair” comments, they hippies really try me.

      • Yes, but are the names different doctors use to communicate about them just a description of the symptoms and are the descriptions in common language or “sciency”.

        For example, Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome is named after its chief symptom but isn’t in vernacular which would be something like “Started Getting Sick Real Easy” (SGiRE?)

  36. O/T again, but this article http://www.nationalreview.com/article/429432/muslim-mobs-rape-europe starts with “Many years ago I read a thought-provoking science-fiction short story about a sociologist who specialized in the important field of bureaucratic expansionism. I can’t recall the story’s title, and I haven’t found the story on the Web, but a colleague better schooled in sci-fi can probably identify it.” and ends with
    “P.S. My thanks to Fred Schwarz for tracking down the title of the sci-fi story. It’s “The Snowball Effect,” by Katherine MacLean, published in 1952. And I’m going to go back and read it.” The story is here:

    See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_MacLean

  37. One proof I always use to remind myself that I am living in a time of casual wonders is ice cream. The Roman Emperors had to send their toughest legionnaires to possibly die in the Alps to just get plain ice. How many delicacies that used to be the province of kings can now be had for a pittance and minimal effort? Go ahead and complain about commercialism why I drive down to the market for an ice cream sammich.

  38. When I was about 4 or 5 years old I got sick with something that would have killed me if it happened even 100 previous. So I realize that I would have been just another one of those unfortunate child mortality statistics. When this dawned on me, it made me pretty unsympathetic to any of those people who long for the old days. They actively make themselves unhappy by pining for something they’ve never known, instead of enjoying what they have.

    • If I’d been born ten years earlier, in Portugal, I’d not be here now.

      • I was born two months premature in 1961. The odds on my survival were 50/50; against survival undamaged were much higher.

        • This in 1962. I can’t tell HOW premature I was (mom sucks at counting) but I was eleven inches long. And I caught EVERYTHING for three years. Without antibiotics, I’d have been fertilizer. Even with them I was touch and go till about 12. My teeth have “ridges” which apparently come from high fevers while the teeth are developing. REALLY high fevers. (Older son has them to. He was the champion of ear infections.)

    • with the technology available when I was born, I would have been dead two years ago, and not the cyborg travesty of humanity I am today, I can deal with cyborg travesty, thank you.

    • When I was stationed in the West Indies, I came down with something really bad. I’ve never known if it was identified, although I presume it was. The Navy hospital in San Juan decided – despite the recommendations of our base corpsman and a local doctor – that I could wait for the next weekly mail flight rather than get medevac’d, and by that time I’d recovered. Apparently, a dozen or so children on the island died from it.

  39. While not as dramatic a tale as many here, this year we spent several months without a hot water heater as well as nearly two weeks without the fridge due to mechanical failures. We have no dishwasher. The last is the easiest to deal with. The return of hot water made washing dishes SO much easier. No longer was there heating water on the stove to do the dishes! I gained a great deal of sympathy for my folks growing up in Korea in the post Korean War era. I have no longing for ye olde days. I’ll take learning about old times and rejoicing that I don’t have to put up with the down sides and can play with the good stuff.

    Caligraphy, illumination, letters. These are all much easier than in the old days, but I don’t pretend that letters are the best means of communication. I like the modern world.

    • I solved the dishwashing problem some years ago, when I finally persuaded my spouse that there was no shame in using paper plates.

      We each have a cup, a glass, and cutlery, which we wash as needed.

      I have way better things to do with my life than washing dishes or making up beds…

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      You have a working dishwasher?

  40. In general this is one reason I think the Boy Scouts are a good idea (and I wish there were actual Girl Scouts in the same fashion as Boy Scouts – and not the current group). Let the boys see what life is like in the wild – spend a week without electricity up at camp – going to the outhouse. It makes you appreciate what you have more.

    -John

    • Yep. I ensured all 4 of my sons went through all levels of Boy Scouts. All 4 made Eagle. Fun times for all of us.

      I was the Scoutmaster…..

    • If I ever have a daughter, she can join Girl Scouts if she wants to. There are a lot of downsides to the current organization, but I have a lot of good memories of being a Brownie (plus, I’m sure I have family who would want an in with the cookie sellers).

      If I ever have a son, he’s going into Boy Scouts as soon as they’ll take him. I consider that a service I must do for my future daughter-in-law.

      • Start him in Cub Scouts in first grade….

      • I’m sure you already will, but partly for those who might read this:
        check your area’s Girl Scouts.

        Where I grew up, very rural, it was totally freaking abusive. (It didn’t hurt ME, because my mom recognized it and didn’t sign us up, but 30 years later some of the girls are still screwed up by the dynamics that got reinforced there.)

        In the area I live now, it’s mind-blowing levels of…well, Seattle. I’m teaching my kids at home in part so they know freaking biology, rather than some kind of idiot double-think about how a human can carry a non-human, non-living fetus that suddenly becomes a living human and thus person at birth. (Because they do at least recognize that “living human” should mean “person” and will thus attack anyone who suggests that those who are non-persons are living humans.)

    • Depending on your area, check out “Heritage Girls.”

  41. A friend wrote what I consider the most hilarious rebuttal to the farm nostalgia I’ve ever read. Hope you don’t mind the plug:

    http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Farming-What-Makes-Sheep-ebook/dp/B005NINPBK/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1452278470&sr=8-2-fkmr0&keywords=farming+101%2C+christensen

  42. “Burn Rousseau in effigy”? I’d rather tie him to a chair seated at the base of the Trinity Test tower.

  43. Christopher M. Chupik

    I don’t mind modern technology, but I don’t like how some people use it obsessively. You should not be crossing the street or railway tracks while texting. You should also not be texting while using a urinal. Know when to turn off the phone.

  44. Not everyone would regard the little girl’s list of technological consequences as downsides.

    • Oh, I see I didn’t put in the little girl’s outburst at the end of her list “I don’t know why we need technology at all” to which proud mama said, “Me neither” before starting her list. Which is why I decided looking at the snow was the thing to do.

    • The underlying complaint of the XKCD strip is “why are you paying attention to something other than me.”

  45. Unable to suppress the laughter? That can be awkward.

  46. Ah, having spent a lot of time in the tropics without A/C, and often without power, I really wish the “back to nature” times could enjoy life in a hot, stuffy grass hut without power or screens. What fun it is to sleep on a hard floor while either sweltering under a blanket, or getting eaten by malaria infested mosquitoes! Oh, you’d want a mosquito net, mattress, bug spray, and anti-malarial drugs? Sorry dude, modern tech! Miserable because you now have malaria or dengue? Sorry, you got to walk to the house sick (two days away)… oh, yeah, that’s modern tech, so no go for you. Hope you don’t die. And note that the mosquitoes really, really love the outhouse- wild bees as well- which makes the visits during the inevitable diarrhea really, really fun.

    • I spent a year and a half in the West Indies. I bought a mosquito net because the BOQ had louvered blinds to keep out hurricane rains and no A/C. Well, not to start. Some time after I got there, I don’t remember exactly when, we all got moved into local hotels for a while so that they could put in A/C and glass windows.

  47. Yeah, I don’t want to live without my anti depressants. I need them.

    • me too!

    • Feather Blade

      I’m rather fond of ibuprofen. In gelcaps. Gelcaps are a wonderful invention.

      • I love gelcaps. Trying to take a medicine that’s powdery and melting your tongue is unpleasant, especially when you have to take it twice a day.

        Has anyone noticed hoe rarely the words twice and thrice are used today?

        • I dunno – I think I must have used the word thrice at least twice yesterday.

          OTOH, I have noticed that other people frequently do not commonly use a vast number of the words I routinely elect to deploy. I hardly deem my vocabulary leviathanic but I confess a tendency to feel sorry for some of the more lonely words of the mother tongue.

          Perhaps i spent overly much of my youth doing crosswords?

          • Your sesquipedalian tendencies culminate in a lexicon antithetical to the vernacular?

            Yes, I know, not all are sesquipedian and it’s not “showing off” to have a specific meaning in mind and the ability to select the word that carries that meaning rather than one that lives in the state of almost.

        • I’ve notice that two or three times.

  48. MadRocketSci

    I get migraines. For a few years in the Air Force, thanks to the wonders of government medicine, I was told I had allergies and was malingering when I would stagger out of work barely able to function. I would have a night every other week or so where I simply couldn’t think, the pain was so bad.

    (I saw my family doctor, who recognized the disease), and he prescribed my first triptan medication to treat it. It worked. Within 30 minutes, disabling pain (that would last for a day, with an additional day on either side where I’m feeling ill and spaced out) would just vanish. No other standard pain medication would do anything to the pain due to migraines – just make everything else numb.

    My continued existence is in large part an artifact of modern medicine and science. Without it, I couldn’t see (glasses), I couldn’t think (migraines every so often), and I would have died of vitamin deficiency problems in childhood. With it, I can live a productive and pain-free life.

    Count me in the pro-technology camp.

    • I’ve had migraines, enough to understand why in ancient times those so afflicted would drill holes through their skulls in search of respite. Even worse were back spasms, locked in pain such I dare not move lest it overwhelm completely.

      I think modern medicine is a wonderful thing. Do you realize that we no longer have to cut people open to see what is happening inside them? Are you aware that until recently, in order to take a person’s temperature we would take a thin glass tube, filled with deadly toxic molten metal, and shove it in their bum? Why, less than a hundred years ago we casually put devices painted with deadly radioactive elements on our wrists!

      • MadRocketSci

        Why, less than a hundred years ago we casually put devices painted with deadly radioactive elements on our wrists!

        Hey! I *still* do that. 😛 (As long as you don’t lick the paintbrush when painting the dial, the beta particles from tritium phosphate shouldn’t be penetrating the watch-lid)

        • Then why did the geiger go nuts when placed near the one I saw (it could have used radium; it was somewhat old)?

          • Most likely explanation is secondary electrons being produced when the primary ones knock them off of atoms (an x-ray cathode machine will produce the same effect if you put an aluminum sheet in the path of the x-rays. When I was doing a lab on x-ray diffraction, it nearly scared me to death when i did that). I now believe these lower-energy emissions are relatively safe, however.

            • Electrons / beta particles are stopped by a sheet of paper. Not going to say you couldn’t hurt yourself with them but you would have to work at it.

              • Hmm… just looked up the Wiki article, which says that the particularly low-energy beta particles it puts out won’t even penetrate the dead skin layer, so potential for damage is very low.

          • I think they did used to use radium. They switched to tritium based phosphorescent paint because of the non-penetrating particles emitted.

            Pretty sure my old watch is tritium phosphate. It’s dimmed quite a bit over the years, and that is supposed to have a half life of 12 years.

            • Yep. Originally, they used Radium, which actually should not be a problem for the wearer, as the alpha particle produced by the isotope with the longest half-life (1600 years for for Ra226 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium) will not penetrate either the workings or the bezel. The problem was that the people painting the watch hands tended to twirl the brushes on their tongues in order to get the fine lines required for being readable.

  49. MadRocketSci

    http://www.chaospark.com/politics/eloi.htm

    I thought this reinterpretation of the Eloi/Morlock dichotomy was interesting.

    Definitely on the Morlock end of things. (Note to the Eloi: Don’t crash our food supply, and you won’t have to find out what happens next.)

  50. …they’ve never read Marx…

    The Daughter has. She has stated vociferously and at length the opinion that Marx is a dreadful writer. I think she may hold that failing against him even more than his philosophy, of which she is no fan.

    • Well, I’ve noticed there is an inverse relationship between the probability that someone has actually read Marx and that someone is actually a Marxist.

      Sure, there are those that read him and believe but it seems one of the worst ways to convince someone to that side.

    • He’s prolix in English and insufferable in German. I’ve slogged through sections of the German Ideology and Capital, and of course “the Communist Manifesto.” I don’t recommend it if you want fun, understandable economic or historical theory.

  51. Stuff like how people now just spend time talking on their cellphones, instead of connecting to each other.

    Some snide social butterfly: “Do you have any idea what a social misfit you are?”
    Me: “I have more friends than you do. They just don’t happen to live here.”

    Some years back in a discussion about The Lord of the Rings, I mentioned that one of the things that always bugged me about it was the whole decline of civilizations thing. The Second Age was so much poorer and drearier than the first, and the Third was worse, with the upcoming Fourth blander still. Another person piped up that it was an accurate representation of the world.

    I responded by pointing out how much better off we were than the Romans (for instance), and that all Caesar’s wealth could not have bought him a single Tylenol. They responded by saying that the Romans did have opium and, you know, they’d have to get used to having slaves to do all the work but it really would have been so much better to live then than now.

    Um. Yeah. At that point I stopped. It just wasn’t worth trying to get through that level of delusion.

    http://thewriterinblack.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-perpetual-decline-of-civilization.html

    • “Do you have any idea what a social misfit you are?”

      “Why would I want to fit in with your society?”

      As a side note, the “decline of civilization” thing going in LOTR is best understood as a combination of borrowing from old mythology and Tolkien’s own…issues…with the Industrial Revolution.
      I really can’t blame anyone who went through WWI for thinking that preindustrial warfare might have been better.

      • There was a whole class of people who had “issues” with the industrial revolution. Which is mostly why the industrial revolution still has a bad rep.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Working in the early factories was bad but better than working on the farm (especially the farms of the times).

          Of course, most of the people complaining about the factories never worked on the farms. [Evil Grin]

          • I think some people complaining about factories have worked in neither farms nor factories.

          • This. That’s why people left the farms in droves.

            • Back when the NY Times was still pretending to be a newspaper there was a front page (admittedly, below the fold so as not to disturb unduly) article explaining why — during the current bitch hunt over Kathy Lee Gifford’s clothing line being manufactured in “sweat shops” — those sweat sops were such sought after job opportunities in Third World countries. After explaining that educating above 4th Grade was a pointless luxury in most of those places the Times even compared casualty rates between factory and farm labor in those countries.

              Yes, I was so amazed even back in the Nineties to read something intelligent in the Times that I still recall it. After Safire retired the last traces of intelligent thought (outside the occasional John Tierney article) rendered the paper of record unreadable.

            • Ma: Be anything you want. Doctor, lawyer, engineer, electrician, plumber, whatever… just stay off the farm!

              (Yes, Pa married the “farmer’s daughter” – well, one of them.)

              Even with all the… quirkiness… of the results of that, there was no way she was going back to to the farm.

          • Actually we were TOLD that working in the mills was bad. By the same people who were nostalgic for the bucolic peasant life, with them on top of course.

            • Well, actually, during that period, the Army had to lower its standards because they weren’t enough candidates who were tall enough. The flight to the mills might have been driven in part by lack of farmland.

            • Ehh, it wasn’t just the would-be aristos talking about it. Conditions were lousy–white lung, body parts in the gears, etc.
              Whether it was worse than farming during the period is up for debate.

              • There’d be a huge difference depending on what land you were on, and who controlled it– some of my ancestors moved here because the guy who owned their land figured out that there was a lot more profit to be made in getting rid of farmers and raising sheep. I’d guess that would be, in part, because machines are more effective at preparing wool.

                Lots of “scientific” inhumanity, too– early utilitarianism, and just as short sighted.

      • Oh, I well understand the mythic underpinnings of the declining civilization thing, echoing back to Classical Myth and the descending Gold, Silver, and Iron ages.

        I just happen to disagree with it and found it annoying.

    • Yes, rising levels of technology have made everyone’s lives healthier and wealthier. But when I look at the Lincoln-Douglas debates and compare them to what passes for “debate” today, I have to sympathize with Tolkien. Because I’m not at all sure our society is becoming wiser. Rather the opposite, it seems to me.

      • That’s by design. Remember who control the education and media establishments. The last thing they want is for people to think.

  52. Christopher M. Chupik

    Part of the problem is that a lot of people have no idea what “technology” is. A knife is technology. So is a plow. A life without technology would the life of an animal, and one of the ones that aren’t smart enough to use simple tools like otters.

    • My folks– for once, I think dad actually started it– defined “technology” as “applied science.”

    • Which is why I hate, hate, hate the trope where “technology” doesn’t work in magical areas.

    • Amen Brother. The same way “chemicals” is used to mean bad evil things. My daughter looked at something (once) and said “ewww, it has chemicals in it!” I looked at her and said – “Kitty, YOU are made of chemicals.” We then had a discussion on what the words meant.

      Of course, she is used to my lectures. She can even be amused by them. After I walked her through how a jet engine works in the Naval Aviation Museum (in Pensacola, where else? – GO THERE – excellent museum. But check the schedule, the Blue Angels also practice there – double win!) – a gentleman came over with his son and asked if I could repeat the lecture for his son. 🙂

      Fun stuff.

  53. In my family, whenever we complain about car problems or traffic, our Grandmother (who grew up riding wagons in Canada) says “oh, but they’re so warm.”

    Yeah, I’ll take the worst 20 year old clunker over a horse-and-buggy for my daily commute, thank you very much.

  54. That mother and her daughter have a simple solution available for the problem of technology: eschew it.

    You don’t have to buy the +plus phone package, nor even the smart phone. Don’t buy a smart phone, don’t pay for the data package. You don’t need the 600+ channel cable package; you don’t even need cable. Cancel Netflix and any other streaming programming — stick with the VCR.

    You don’t even have to dine in restaurants; eat at home and engage in conversation. Contrary to what the public schools teach, you are not obligated to eat out at least once a week, nor use a smart phone or watch cable.

    Or is that simply crazy talk?

  55. In what world are you living in? If you send a letter, one letter a day, that is 6 dollars for 14 letters. Is that seriously a lot of money? According to your personal experience, it is. Wait in long lines at the post office? There is this great new thing called mailboxes. Every house and apartment complex has one. Now you don’t have to wait in line. You like the internet age the same reason you like the microwave. Everything is instant, right now. You would rather sacrifice quality for quanitity. I wrote long letters to. And I much prefer that then the 80 text messages that I have that say “k” or “lol” and nothing more. When did it become a place where people talk a lot but don’t say anything?

    • This world. I didn’t send novels out for years because I couldn’t afford the $8. Maybe we’re not all that blessed?
      As for sacrificing quality for quantity, to WHOM are you speaking, sir? My emails are always quality.

    • Are the notepaper and envelopes free? Howabout the ink you impress on that paper? Did you also take into account the time and mental effort involved in writing a letter? Apparently not, else you would recognize email is no less consuming of such time and energy — with the added benefit of not having to toss out rewritten pages as one drafts such a document.

      Further, you falsely contrast long letters to text messages, as if those two comprised the only options for communication. Perhaps those “80 text messages that I have that say “k” or “lol” and nothing more” are more indicative of the type people with whom you associate than they are of the state of missive composition today.

      This being America, however, you are free to write long letters and even to refuse to accept anything short of that from friends and associates. Imposing your preferences on how other people communicate with each other is outside your authority. Those of us who prefer other communication modes (I, for example, eschew any communications which do not involve smoke signals*) will persist in not living in accord with your fantasies of what constitutes proper behaviour.

      Finally, before chastising anyone for their writing I strongly recommend you engage in some remedial work on your own mad skilz.

      *The ongoing kerfuffle this has engendered with the EPA is continuing without any sign of resolution.

    • Here in reality, Christmas Cards are something I have to budget for– and using the mailbox is a crapshoot because weather tends to happen. It’s more common that I get letters that are damp than that I don’t, even though I watch the mailbox pretty well because people will steal out of them. (Yes, it’s a felony; how often is it punished?)

      Thank you cards, likewise, aren’t cheap, and if you treat them respectfully they also have to be taken to the post office.

      Finally, what world do you live in, that you only send one decent email a day?

    • Feather Blade

      And if you spent that amount on coffee you could get a venti half-caf soy mocha frappuchino with caramel.

      If you’re into that kind of thing.

      Your point?

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