Friday, July 23, 2010

Wiederaenders: Technology, rules grow exponentially

Tim writes,

"My parents and in-laws are from the generation for which: TV was only a dream (come true); school buses were largely non-existent because farm kids hiked to school; seeing airplanes other than the WWI variety was a rarity; male teachers always wore suits, and women wore dresses - no slacks or shorts; air conditioning was a modern convenience - mostly for the rich; and WWII triggered many forms of mechanization."

Let me point out some other aspects of your parents' generation, Tim. TV was a dream come true that they simply turned over to commercial interests without a thought as to the damage it would cause for both the medium and society. Farm kids hiked to school, and not a few died on the way. Seeing airplanes other than the WWI variety was a rarity because they hadn't been invented yet. Male teachers always wore suits and women wore dresses because the pressure to conform was so intense, the women were paid a small fraction of the men's wages for the same or more work, and they both routinely pummeled the children in their charge with sticks, convinced beyond reason that it would somehow help them learn. Air conditioning was a modern convenience, mostly for the rich, and oddly enough it still is. WWII triggered many forms of mechanization, not least the mechanization of genocide, economic oppression, and nuclear war.

Tim's nostalgia for the halcyon past ignores the gulf between classes that kept the poor forever poor, the discrimination that kept everyone but white upperclass Protestant men out of any position of power, the grinding racism and sexism, the utter disregard for worker health and safety, the flu epidemics that wiped out millions at a stroke, the barbaric conquest of poor people the world over to steal their resources, and many other blindingly obvious aspects that characterized the prewar era in the US. Go ahead and live there if you like, Tim, but for gad's sake don't try to bring it back here.

This is the problem with nostalgia. Rose-colored glasses don't change anything but how you see things, sort of.

"For today's generations, the Internet and technology have changed much of what we do and how we do it." Change the word "Internet" and that was true for your parents, and for theirs, and for theirs, Tim. Along with technology, a constant in that has been increasing population pressure, the kind that makes ten motorcycles much louder than one. And that's why we have more rules.

As long as human society has existed, we've made and enforced rules of conduct, and where there are more people, there are more rules. Tim's parents chafed at new rules and were nostalgic for their mythical past, too. Rebelling against the idea of rules is characteristic of adolescence, but, thankfully, most of us grow out of that and set to work helping ensure that the rules are fair and make sense. That's called citizenship.


birther t. bagur said...

I got a kick out his amazement that firefighters are on call for 24 shifts.
My mom who is a pharmacist at a behavioral does the same thing and she might have to rush down and get meds for someone the cops drag in at 3 AM. ER Doctors, vets, locksmiths, plumbers, gas company repair crews, etc. have to be ready to respond at any moment as part of their jobs.
I once worked 40 hours straight on a drilling rig when we were getting gas kicks (early stage of a blowout) and I was the only geologist on site to monitor the gas detectors.
Wiederanders just sounds incredibly out of touch. It is no wonder that right wingers like him are so hostile to the needs of the working class (their hatred of overtime and related laor regulations is one example) when something that is as normal as having weird working hours is totally foreign to them.

Javelina 13 said...

Hmmm. Nostalgic, perhaps, for a time when the U.S. Congress was exclusively male and white? The current level of 17% female members is too high for him? And could he please remind us -- how many African American senators are there, again?