I wrote this blog for Stats with Cats four years ago and I thought Random TerraBytes might be a better place for it.
Collaboration means different things to different people. Many experts describe collaboration as people working together to solve a problem or achieve a common goal. In contrast, many people in business use collaboration to refer to any meeting of minds between individuals, whether the purpose is to deliberate plans or solutions to problems, negotiate differences, administrate work assignments, and just communicate information. Collaboration used to just be called teamwork but the addition of three syllables adds more gravitas.
The simplest model of collaboration is one-way communication, in which information is conveyed from a leader or other knowledgeable source to other individuals. Often, this model is manifest as a supervisor relating news or other information to subordinates. Information transfer is one-way, from source to recipient, and the information is not contingent on anything the recipient does or says. Some people don’t consider communication to be…
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I wrote this in anticipation of the April 22, 2017 March for Science. It turns out there are quite a few protest songs being written about the Trump Administration. It reminds me of the 1960s, and those politicians weren’t nearly so bad.
Hello science our good friend
We’ve come to visit you again
Because your breakthroughs help us all survive
And give us things to lift our lives
Your benefits that we all share together
We need what’s found by science
In verdant hills we walked and saw
Habitats with life galore
‘Neath the clear blue sky a scent of fir
Gentle breezes hum like a kitten’s purr
Then we came upon a factory’s discharge pipe
It isn’t right
We need the shield of science
And in the clear dark night we saw
Ten thousand stars and maybe more
We wonder if we’re all alone
And if we’ll explore the vast unknown
And figure how we all came to be right here
We all care
About what’s found by science
Cruel it is we all can know
When health fails and cancers grow
Chemicals replaced ancient spells
Now stem cells repair damaged cells
But the treatments don’t always bring a cure
That’s why we need more science
And the climate experts said
Using the data they had read
That their studies gave a warning
That the Earth’s climate was warming
They all agreed the signs were there to see
Written on the planet’s land
In nature’s hand
And appearing as the face of science
Food stamps make life a little more livable for many people. Here are some facts about SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants.
Nearly two-thirds percent of SNAP participants were children, elderly, or had disabilities. 44% of participants were under age 18, 10% were age 60 or older, and 10% were disabled nonelderly adults. Just over half of SNAP households contained only one person.
In 1989, nearly 42% of all SNAP households received cash welfare benefits and less than 20% had earnings. In 2014, only 6% received cash welfare, while 31% had earnings. The average gross income for all SNAP households was $759 per month. Only 16 percent had gross income above the poverty line. The percentage of SNAP households with zero net income rose more than two-fold, from 18% in 1989 to 41% in 2014.
The average monthly benefit received by SNAP households was $253. Less than 10% of SNAP households received cash welfare benefits. Nearly 25% of SNAP households received Social Security, and 20% received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits given to the aged and disabled. When SNAP benefits are added to gross income, 10% of SNAP households move above the poverty line
Compared to non-SNAP purchasers, SNAP users bought more prepared foods, snacks, meat, poultry, and seafood, and less dairy, fruits, vegetables, and beans. The most notable difference is that SNAP users bought a much higher percentage of baby food than non-SNAP purchasers. These patterns are shown in the following graphs.
SNAP purchases were categorized to simplify understanding. Prepared Foods include jams, jellies, preserves and other sweets, desserts, condiments and seasoning, and soups. Dairy includes milk, eggs, high fat dairy/cheese, and other dairy products. Snacks include salty snacks, candy, nuts, and seeds. Grains include bread and crackers, rice, flour and prepared flour mixes, cereal, pasta, cornmeal, and other cereal products. Drinks include bottled water, juices, coffee, and tea.
Charles M. Blow wrote an opinion article in the New York Times on January 26, 2017 about lies told by members of the Trump administration and characterized as “alternative facts.” It reminded me of a sarcastic blog with the same title that I wrote over a decade ago about the kind of lies told by the Bush Administration and its supporters. It’s sad that even after so much time has passed, many people still can’t recognize lies for what they are. I wonder if it’s attributable to ignorance, cognitive dissonance, or perhaps living in alternate realities in which facts truly are not the same. In any case, here’s the blog I wrote so long ago.
A Lie by Any Other Name
Sometimes there are just no words to describe lies told by politicians. They lie so often and in so many different ways that it’s exhausting to always have to explain to the ignorant why their statements are false or misleading. So, I thought it was about time there was terminology that could be used to describe these false statements.
Sociologists, psychologists, and linguists who conduct research on lies study their cause, nature, occasion, victim, subject, size, result, and many other dimensions. I thought it might be simpler to classify political lies only according to their nature and their seriousness. This classification may not be all-inclusive, but it covers the most common political lies.
The nature of a political lie can be classified as one of six different types, each of which I have named in honor of a famous practitioner:
- LIDDY — Lies resulting from self-deception, mental confusion, cluelessness, or just plain stupidity.
- O’REILLY — Lies using fabricated facts or stories, fakery, or false empathy, often with the intention of lending credibility or establishing commonalities.
- HANNITY — Lies that use straw-man arguments, false comparisons, false generalizations, and other logical fallacies.
- LIMBAUGH — Lies involving omissions of facts, out-of-context quotes, misrepresented positions, and other misleading statements.
- COULTER — Lies involving ad hominem arguments, name calling, and other personal attacks.
- GALLUP — Lies that use statistics or that are about a statistical analysis such as a poll.
Lies also have one of five magnitudes:
- LIMP — Lies that are trivial, harmless, inconsequential, petty, not worth the time responding to, or just plain stupid.
- BLOATED/SHRUNKEN — Lies that are substantial (i.e., not limp) and are based on exaggerations (bloated) or minimizations (shrunken) of the truth.
- CRYPTIC — Lies that are consequential (i.e., more than just bloated or shrunken) and are difficult to verify. If you can’t verify that something is a lie by searching the internet, reading a newspaper, opening a book, or watching TV, than it can be considered to be cryptic. Some lies are cryptic because the subject matter is challenging such as scientific or economic analyses. Some lies are cryptic because the information needed to dispute them is dispersed and difficult to gather.
- NAKED — Lies that are consequential and are easy to verify. A lie can start off being cryptic but become naked as information is released to the public. Reports that Iraq had WMD began as cryptic but slowly became naked as continued inspections found no weapons.
- UBER — Lies that are so obviously and outrageously false that they are laughable and should need no refutation.
Putting these two classifications together creates thirty categories of lies. Each category is named by stringing the lie-type and lie-magnitude together into one word. Here are a few examples:
Nixon: I am not a crook
Bush: Mission Accomplished
Bush Administrations: Reasons for the Iraq War
Delay: We’ve eliminated all the fat in government
Ashcroft: The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.
Bush’s Crawford ranch
DoD stories about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman
Bush Administration: White House was trashed by the Clinton Administration when they moved out
O’Reilly: I got my data from the Paris Business Review
Bush: Great job, Brownie
Limbaugh: Abu Ghraib was like a fraternity prank, the guards were just blowing off steam
Bush: I’m a uniter not a divider
I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the 9/11 attacks (Rice) or the failure of the NOLA levees (Bush)
Fox News: Fair and Balanced
Al Gore claims to have invented the internet
Bush Administration pays media to sell education and health programs
Bush: I served my term of enlistment honorably in the TX ANG
Bush: You forgot Poland
Limbaugh: Democrats think that America deserves to be attacked by terrorists
Photos of John Kerry windsurfing
Coulter: Justice O’Connor was Reagan’s biggest mistake
Swift Boat Ads
Malkin: Cindy Sheehan is an anti-American, terrorist-sympathizing agitator
Coulter: New Yorkers would immediately surrender to attacking terrorists
Bush’s margin of victory in the 2004 election gave him political capital and a mandate for conservatism
State Department’s count of the number of terrorist attacks
Bush Administration statistics on the economy and the budget, such as Social Security
Republicans are more fiscally responsible than Democrats
Bush: we’ve assembled the largest international coalition in history to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan
BLOATED or SHRUNKEN
So, for example, when the State Department defined terrorist attacks in a way that would minimize their number in their annual report, they told a shrunkengallup. The swift boat ads about John Kerry were crypticcoulters because they were personal attacks that could not be verified easily. Intelligent design (i.e., creationism) is an uberoreilly to those who believe that the creation story is a myth or a metaphor.
Lies can evolve in this system. The first time I heard President Bush’s statement about nobody being able to anticipate that the NOLA levees would have failed, I thought it was a crypticliddy because it would be hard to show that Bush didn’t actually believe what he said. Within a few days, though, two facts emerged. First, FEMA had conducted an exercise called Hurricane Pam that simulated a NOLA disaster, so obviously somebody thought about it. Second, Bush knew he had cut funding for levee repair, so this was no self-deception. Clearly, it was a hannity not a liddy, because the lie was based on a false generalization. When those reports hit the media, Bush’s statement became a nakedhannity.
These new terms can be used to express nuances in the interpretation of lies and differences of opinion between interpreters. Remember when the Bush campaign used the photo of John Kerry windsurfing to cast him as an elitist? I thought that was a limpcoulter. Who cares whether he plays tennis, softball, or golf. The fact that he plays sports at all said to me that he was fit and healthy enough to withstand the rigors of the presidency. Boy was I wrong. Calling it a crypticcoulter or even a crypticlimbaugh would have been more accurate.
So, you think you have the concept? Test your self with the following lies. What would you call them? (Answers Below)
- Cheney: Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.
- Delay: There’s no fat in government spending. We’ve eliminated it all.
- Santorum: If you have the right to consensual sex, then you have the right to bigamy, incest, and adultery.
- Limbaugh: `Osama’ Obama, `Frenchie’ Kerry, Hurricane Katrina `vanden Heuvel.’
- Rove’s push poll about John McCain having fathered an illegitimate black child.
- The credentials of Jeff Gannon and Michael Brown.
Of course, your answers may be different than mine. That’s the beauty of the system. The names express how we view the lie. So, give the new vocabulary a try. If nothing else, you’ll find it satisfying to slap your forehead and say `now that’s an uberoreilly if I’ve ever heard one.’
1. Crypticliddy. 2. Uberoreilly. 3. Nakedhannity. 4. Limpcoulters. 5. Bloatedgallup. 6. Bloatedlimbaughs.
Sep 24, 2005
Hit the Road, Trump
(sing to the tune of Hit the Road, Jack)
Hit the road, Trump, and don’t you come back
No more. No more. No more. No more.
Hit the road, Trump, and don’t you come back no more
Donald, oh, Donald don’t you treat us so mean
You’re the meanest old prez that we’ve ever seen
And I guess if you don’t go
We’ll have to send your ass to Moscow
Hit the road, Trump, and don’t you come back
No more. No more. No more. No more.
Hit the road, Trump, and don’t you come back no more
Donald. Listen, Donald, don’t you treat us this way
‘Cause we’ll throw your kind to the curb someway
Don’t care if you do ’cause it’s understood
You ain’t got no morals. You just ain’t no good
And I guess if you don’t go
We’ll impeach you and end your show
Hit the road, Trump, and don’t you come back
No more. No more. No more. No more.
Hit the road, Trump, and don’t you come back no more
Come gather ’round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Have you ever mentioned an experience from your past to someone much younger than you only to be met with a gaze of confusion and disbelief? It happens all the time, and the older you get the more it happens. Things change.
On December 29, 2016, Tanya Lynn Dee asked the question on her Facebook page, “Without revealing your actual age, what [is] something you remember that if you told a younger person they wouldn’t understand?” There were over 1,000 responses, which I copied and classified into common themes. Here are the results.
Life was quite a bit different a few generations ago. World War II and its aftermath affected everyone. There were ration books, air raid drills and fallout shelters, Korea, and the Cold War. JFK’s assassination, flower power, Vietnam, the moon landing, and Woodstock all happened in one turbulent decade. Then Nixon resigned, Elvis died, and Mount St. Helens erupted.
Women stayed at home to care for the kids. People never locked their doors. There may not have been indoor plumbing making bathing laborious and infrequent. Everyone had an outhouse. Laundry involved wash boards, and later wringer washers, and outdoor clothes lines. Coal and wood were used for most heating. There was no air conditioning. If your house was insulated, the insulation probably contained asbestos. Many people grew their own food and made their own clothes.
Stores were closed on Sundays because of Blue Laws. People saved the Blue-Chip and S&H Green trading stamps they got from purchases to redeem for household goods. The Sears Christmas Catalog captivated every kid hoping for some special present under the Christmas tree. You could only buy condoms in gas station bathrooms.
The number of post offices peaked in 1901 when there were 76,945. The growth of rural free delivery, which became a permanent service in 1902, contributed to subsequent declines in the number of Post Offices. In 2015, there were 26,615 post offices. There were no zip codes until 1963. By that time, 80% of all mail in the United States was business mail.
Everybody smoked, all the time. Cigarettes were only 35 cents a pack and they made you look cool back then unlike today. Ashtrays were everywhere. Big ones, on every available flat surface. And, nary a “No Smoking” sign anywhere.
Families ate breakfast and dinner together and Sunday was a special meal after the family went to church. Friday meals were always meatless.
Refrigerators were called iceboxes because they were cooled with large ice blocks from the ice house. Milk had to be boiled before drinking. Oleo margarine came in plastic packs with a dye color button you had to squish around. Coffee, spam, sardines, and lard came in cans that used a twist key to peel back a strip of metal that held the lid to the can.
Coke cost 10 cents and candy bars cost 5 cents. There was penny candy, bubblegum, mojos, Turkish taffy, pixie stix, wax lips, and wax “pop” bottles with different fruity flavors. And you ate the wax. Candy cigarettes made you look cool (who thought that was a good idea?). Popcorn was made on the stove in a pot. People made their own root beer.
Families usually only had one car, which dad drove to work. Hitchhiking was commonplace unlike today. Teens spent their Friday nights cruising up and down Main Street looking for their friends.
Front car seats looked like a sofa, and there was a fabric-covered cord on the back of the seat to hold the car blanket. Child car seats were made out of stiff wire, thin vinyl and cardboard, and they just hooked over the front seat. There were no seatbelts
Most cars had a standard transmission, three speeds on the column and double clutching with a hump (transmission tunnel) that ran down the center of rear-wheel drive cars. Engines had manual chokes. Some cars had white wall tires. Older cars had recaps. If you had a car radio, it was AM only.
There was no AC; you had wing windows for cooling. You had to crank up and down car windows and use hand turn signals instead of blinkers. The foot button on the floor next to the brake pedal was used to control the headlight high and low beams.
Gas cost less than a quarter per gallon and it was all leaded. While the pump was running the filling (gas) station attendant would squeegee your windows and check the fluids. These days the attendant doesn’t even leave the booth.
You would put a sign in in your front window so a delivery truck would stop at your house. Home deliveries provided ice, eggs, milk and other dairy products, bread and baked goods, potato chips, newspapers, coal and other items. Rag and bone men picked up anything you would give them that they could resell.
Individuals used to write thank you cards and letters to pen pals in cursive using a fountain pen. Secretaries used shorthand and Dictaphones to record the Boss’ information and then typed it on manual typewriters, which were designed to be inefficient. They had to erase mistakes or use correction tape and white out. They had to align paper correctly and replace the ink ribbon when it wore out. For multiple copies, there was carbon paper. All of these things became obsolete when word processors came into prominence.
Fashion (2% of responses)
You dressed up when you went to Church, or out to dinner, or to neighborhood parties, or you traveled. Girls were not allowed to wear slacks to school, skirts only. Boys had to wear ties to high school. Men never wore earrings; women never got tattoos. Underwear was referred to as unmentionables.
Before pantyhose, there were hose and girdles. Pin curls and seersucker are a century old but still around. The 1940s brought bomber jackets. Bobbie socks and saddle shoes were popular in the 1950s. And the Age of Aquarius saw bellbottom pants, tie-dye tee shirts, Nehru jackets, platform shoes and go-go boots, love beads, and flowers worn in the hair. Teenage girls would make hair rollers from orange juice cans, spam cans, and other objects.
Unlike today, flip flops were called thongs. Rubbers were rubber coverings put over shoes to keep them dry, also called galoshes. Few people wear them anymore. Rubbers now refer to condoms.
Moms painted their kids’ sore throats with iodine and their cuts and scrapes with mercurochrome. Everyone had a scar on their arm from their small pox vaccination. Doctors made house calls carrying a black medical bag
Quarantine signs were put on houses where an occupant had scarlet fever or measles. If you had TB and didn’t come to stay at the TB hospital the Sheriff would come and arrest you and take you there. You would be there three months to a year. Polio victims survived in iron lungs.
A kid’s life was different from today but no one complained. You shared the same bedroom with your siblings. You read Little Golden Books and watched H.R. Puffinstuff on TV. You spent most of your time outdoors playing Jack’s, Red rover, hop scotch, Hide ‘n Go Seek, Red light green light, and Tops. You worked out on the monkey bars. You rode a bike with a banana seat but no helmet, and drank water out of a hose or a bucket with a common ladle.
For spending money, you might get a 25-cent allowance. There were plenty of chores around the house that you had to do to get that allowance. You might also do odd jobs for neighbors, like yard work or babysitting. You might have a paper route or collect deposit bottles and return them to grocery stores for the penny refund.
You had a curfew and a bed time. It was ok to play outside until dark when the streetlights came on or when you were called. But if you didn’t obey, parents weren’t afraid to give a good butt woopin. If you got in trouble in school you were punished at home as well.
One-room schoolhouses with one teacher, eight grades from 1-8, and an outhouse were common in rural areas. Factory-like schools were common in the big cities.
The daily school routine included saying the Pledge of Allegiance followed by lessons in grammar, spelling, and history. You had a book for every class, big heavy books that had to be covered to protect them from normal usage. No one would intentionally abuse them. You might walk home at lunchtime and then go back to school for the afternoon. After school, you might stay to wash the chalkboard and clap the erasers, or go to the library to do homework using the card catalog. The Cold War brought duck and cover drills in which you hid under your desk to avoid nuclear annihilation.
School supplies provided memories for some. The sweet smelling mimeographs with purple ink have been replaced by Xeroxed copies. Lepage rubber tipped glue is still around but slide rules are obsolete. There are no more ink wells in school desks.
Girls were required to wear dresses and skirts to school. Jeans were never allowed. Even on snowy days, girls were in dresses. Hems had to touch the floor when kneeling. In some colleges in the 1960’s, no women were allowed on the football field. Only men could be cheerleaders or play in the marching band. If you disobeyed, a teacher might pick you up by your hair and bring you to the principal’s office for a talk or a good swatting with a paddle. You would also get the belt at home for being disrespectful.
Toys from the past made kids use their imagination and creativity more than toys do today. Kites were made out of newspaper, stray pieces of wood, and torn up rags for the tail. A skate board was made with a board and an old roller skate. You would clip playing cards on your bicycle spokes with clothes pins to sound like a motorcycle.
There were all kinds of dolls, homemade and manufactured, made of paper, wood, plastic, cloth, or other common items. Young girls wanted the Gerber baby doll, Chatty Cathy, the Chrissy doll, and many others. Boys wanted toy guns and comic books. Roller skates were made of metal, had two wheels on each side in a rectangle, and attached to your shoes by tightening a clasp on the front with a skate key. Before Legos, there were erector sets, Lincoln logs, and Tinker toys. There were also lawn darts, fiddle sticks, jump rope, clackers, weebles, chia pets, pet rocks, pogo stick, and knickerbocker bells.
Attitude (3% of responses)
Today’s older adults remember being taught obedience and respect for their elders and authority figures. They learned comportment and manners. Gentleman opened the door for a lady. You needed to have patience and display common sense. You had to work to earn a living. Hard work never hurt anybody.
In the 1950s, televisions were all black & white with only 3 VHF commercial channels, ABC, NBC, and CBS. There was no cable or dish. Later, UHF provided PBS and a few other public stations, which didn’t come in too well. Channels were selected using dials, one for VHF and another for UHF. There were no remote controls. You had to get up off the couch to turn on the TV, change channels, turn up the volume, and turn the set off. Often, the youngest kid in the household was the remote.
Televisions started with small screens, 13-inches or smaller. There was often more furniture than TV. Later, entertainment consoles evolved. A four-foot long piece of furniture might have a TV, an AM radio, a record player, and speakers. All the electronics used vacuum tubes that had to warm up before working. Drug stores had tube testers for the home handyman who wanted to fix his own set. The horizontal hold and the vertical hold were often unstable, causing the picture to roll in one direction or another. You needed antennas to get a decent picture, rabbit ears for VHF and a loop antenna for UHF. You put aluminum foil on your rabbit ears to get better TV reception.
Television broadcasts were free. They started in the morning about 6 AM with a test pattern. If you didn’t buy a TV Guide, you didn’t know what was on. Broadcasting ended at midnight with the national anthem followed by snow. Now, most channels are 24/7. Tests of the Emergency Broadcast System occurred periodically. One commenter noted that “These [tests] were creepy and used to give me nightmares. In case of a nuclear holocaust and if your TV hasn’t been vaporized, this message will be followed by instructions on where to go to die in an orderly fashion.”
Kid shows like Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo played on weekday mornings but Saturday mornings were for cartoons. There was Danger Mouse, Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har, Mr. Magoo, and Howdy Doody.
Popular TV shows of the past included I Love Lucy, the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., American Bandstand, Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Laugh In, the Honeymooners, Combat, 12 O’clock High, Soap, the Green Hornet, Gunsmoke, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the Wide World of Disney, Lawrence Welk, Bewitched, Star Trek and Mork & Mindy. Commercial jingles like “plop-plop, fizz-fizz, oh what a relief it is” still ring in peoples’ minds. The 11 o’clock news asked if you knew where your kids were.
It seems like everyone has a cell phone today, but it certainly wasn’t always like that.
Early phones were wooden boxes mounted on the wall with a ear piece and a tube to talk into. You turned a crank on the side of the box to alert the operator that you wanted to make a call. Then the operator connected you through a switchboard consisting of wires connected to other phones and switchboards. Usually several families shared connections, called a party line. If someone else was on the line, you had to wait until they were finished.
Crank phones were eventually replaced by rotary phones. You originally had to rent your telephone from the phone company but that changed because of consumer complaints. Operators were phased out and telephone numbers beginning with letters were assigned. Eventually the letters were converted to numbers. You memorized phone numbers you called often. If you called someone and they were using the phone, you would get a busy signal. If you received a call, you did not know who was calling until you answered the phone. Once you knew who it was, you knew where they were because all phones were land lines. The phone cords limited where you could take calls and you could get all wrapped up in the cord. Rotary phones were cumbersome to use, which led to the development of push-button phones. A nice thing about rotary phones was that you could slam down the phone handset if you were angry. You can’t do that with a cell phone.
Calling long distance was expensive, so many people put a clock by the phone so no call lasted more than 3 minutes. If you could wait until after 11 PM, rates were cheaper. If you dialed your call directly you would be charged for the call, but if you called collect, the charges would be reversed to the party receiving the call. The phone system would ask you your name and then ask the receiving party if they would accept the charges from you. Some people would call collect and quickly say their message when prompted to say their name, then the call receiver would decline accepting the call so neither would pay. You could also make a person-to-person call, which was more expensive, but you would only be charged for the call if the person you wanted was available to answer.
Pay phones used to be in transparent booths which later gave way to open-air cabinets. They had talking operators who told you how much money to insert to make the call. People walking past a pay phone would check the coin return for change not taken.
For all the changes computers and the Internet have gone through, only 3% of the comments referred to them. This is probably because PCs didn’t become popular until the 1990s and they are so integrated in everyday life that most young adults are quite familiar with them. Still, there are some aspects of the early days of personal computers and the Internet that would be surprising to the current generation of teenagers. Games, software, web sites, and computer models come and go but changes in technology are memorable.
Take storage. Early mainframe data storage involved reel-to-reel magnetic tapes. Storage on a personal computer involved cassette tapes or floppy (8, 5¼, or 3½-inch) disks. Punch cards and paper tapes were used to input data and computer programs. “Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate” was a frequent warning. Over time, these methods were replaced by hard drives that evolved to larger capacities, greater speeds, and lower costs. Likewise with the Internet, early connections involved dial-up via a 300 baud earmuff acoustic modem. Modem speeds increased and became more reliable but were eventually replaced by broadband and wireless.
Cameras required film, which had to be processed with chemicals in darkrooms. Some were able to use flash cubes, which are now obsolete. You had to wind clocks and watches, none had batteries or solar cells. There were X-ray machines in shoe stores.
Society’s tastes in entertainment have changed considerably over the years. Radio programs of the 1930s and 1940s, like The Shadow and Abbot and Costello were entertaining for the time but would bore today’s youth. They don’t remember acts like Topo Gigo, Laurel and Hardy, or Paul Winchell and his dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. They don’t know that the communication devices they are using today were imagined generations ago as Dick Tracy’s Two-Way Wrist Radio and Star Trek’s communicators.
Music fared better than most performing arts. The original music of the 1960s and 1970s is still being played and covered by today’s artists, albeit often with some computer enhancement. Young adults may not know many of the bands of the British Invasion, but they know the Beatles. They may never have heard of Aretha Franklin, Sammy Hagar, the Electric Light Orchestra, Frank Zappa, Bill Haley and the Comets, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Paul Anka, all big acts of yesteryear.
Before Facebook, video games, and smartphones, people found entertainment in interacting with other people face-to-face. They played cards, went to barn dances, ice cream socials, and church picnics, and held small dinner parties with neighbors. They went with their friends to see bare knuckle boxing matches, football played in leather helmets without face masks, and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Teenagers would sneak friends into drive-in theaters by hiding them inside the trunks of their cars. Or, they would go to a movie matinee where they could watch a couple of cartoons before the movie through a haze of cigarette smoke. Years later, young adults could rent a VCR player to watch their rented VHS tapes and enjoy their dime bag.
The 1960s and 1970s taught us what good music is supposed to sound like. It was played from 33⅓, 45, and 78 rpm vinyl records. 8-track tapes and cassettes came later. You needed a plastic insert to play 45s. Periodically, you had to replace the needle in your record player and tape pennies to the stylus to correct the weight distribution. Records were expensive, easy to scratch or break, and required careful storage so they wouldn’t warp. Still, the music was worth the effort.
The Only Constant in Life is Change
So, what things do older adults remember that most young adults wouldn’t understand? There have been many changes over the last few generations. Some changes involved:
- Societal norms, like stay-at-home-moms of the 1950s to working moms of today.
- Convenience in everyday life, like the introduction of indoor plumbing.
- The introduction of something new, like before there was televisions, transistor radios, air conditioners, or computers.
- Major technological leaps, like from iceboxes to refrigerators.
- Periodic innovations, like wire recordings to vinyl records to 8-tracks and cassettes to CDs to digital files.
- Refinements in products and services, like the workings of cars.
- What thing used to cost, like gas and candy.
Surprisingly, nobody mentioned the changes from folding paper maps to paper map books to Google Maps.
You might think that it would be some technological advance that would be most surprising to young adults. However, the changes alluded to by most respondents involved not just the technology but also how everyday life was changed because of it. Consider how telephones have changed life. Few families had a telephone a century ago. Today, it seems like everybody has one, at least every young adult. People used to avoid using their phone so it would be available in case of an emergency, or at least an important call. Today, people seem as though they never hang up. Party lines were popular for a hundred years until they were largely phased out in the 1980s. After that, the trend was toward greater privacy, from multiple lines for a single family and teenage girls getting their own Princess phone to individual cell phones and even throwaway phones. Telephones have changed and they have changed us.
So what do you think will change over the next few generations that will make what we do today seem as archaic as outhouses?