Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Friends of General Ludd

I saw this posting on one of my online hangouts and here's my response to it.

Consolidated ideas from a few threads below and my recent take on it: Went into a "standard" electronics store in town a week or two ago looking for a cap can wafer or cap can clamp (this was before Tom Pierce sent me one--Thanks again Tom!). The electronics store is a few notches above Radio Shack and sells ICs, switches, solder, shrink tubing, etc... you get the picture. They also do repair on stereos, VCRs, etc. I walked in with my cap can and asked the "twenty-something" behind the counter if he had a wafer or a clamp for the cap can. He took a glance at at and said "oh, that's for a starter motor, isn't it. We don't have anything for that." I had to explain to him what it was and he responded that there's no application for that type of thing, so therefore the store wouldn't have anything like that. And I'm thinking to myself that the sign in the window says they repair stereos, etc., and stereos have capacitor banks, and those capacitors are either held down by a wafer or a clamp... After he recommended going "on line to look" I responded that there certainly is application for the cap can and that I could have purchased the wafer from several on-line sources, but wanted to keep it local. And this kid works in an electronics store...

That's what Father Martin always talked about when he said that something had the outward and visible signs but lacked the inward and spiritual grace. The rule applies to matters temporal as well as spiritual, methinks.

I mean, why is anyone really surprised here? What's interesting to me is how fast the technology disappeared from general usage and from the lexicon of most people along with the tube testers in the drug store.

Looking deeper, I'm in mind of a fellow-a sociologist-who did a study of welfare families in Washington, D.C.. He found that there were families in which three generations in a household were on welfare-which is neither here nor there-but what he discovered was that in such families there was no one in living memory who had ever held a job or had the slightest inkling of what that was all about.

In fact, when you bring up this general subject (three generations and out), most people bridle at the notion: "What the hell are you talking about?! It's always been this way!" when really, it hasn't always been that way. We haven't always been addicted to video games and McDonalds, and at one time you could cross the entire country on the interurbans and trolley lines.

I think you can take that rule-three generations and out-and apply it to a lot of things: horse drawn agriculture, steam engines, public transportation, home canning, Sunday dinners with the family, home cooked meals, one earner families where Dad was always home on Saturday, newspapers, local brewers, the Borden's milkman and the Sunshine breadman, cobblers, tinkers, and the Italian cutler who'd come around every few months and sharpen Mother's kitchen knives and scissors. The truck had a bell which the cutler would ring in a special manner-ting ting ting-ita tingity ting and repeat.

Of course, when you do succeed in eliminating a base of knowledge you also reduce the number of people who knew what the reasons were that it existed in the first place and what advantages can be gained from it.

This phenomenon serves the interests of some folks too. If you're McDonalds, you sure as hell don't want people eating at home or going to cooking classes.

Parenthetically, the present economic contretemps is compelling people some to start looking at a lot of ways of doing things that are economical and thrifty (where did THAT notion go?) and calling it the 'new frugality' when in reality it never really went away.

Bobster, I think you are a friend of General Ned Ludd. So am I.


Post a Comment

<< Home