Things today's kids missed out on

J

jtr1962

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Since this post, I've been working on an idea I'm calling the Cost of Efficiency. Its counterintuitive to even suggest that efficiency has costs, as the goal of efficiency is the reduction of costs, but I would argue that much of this thread says otherwise. In practice, efficiency is the elimination of things that are or become optional. A person at the grocer to ring up your purchases, a person who collects tokens from a change box for loading into the sales channel, a person to fill the gasoline in your car. So to the rumble of a V8, packaging made of thick cardboard (or wood!), toys made of metal, and flights that go coast to coast without stopping at a [high efficiency] hub airport. There's a part left out, the experience of a thing that no longer is, a way of doing things which becomes somehow more sterile.
Along a similar vein, I've been thinking recently about the cost of ubiquity. When something isn't common, it generally has more value, and people take more pride in it. I'm not referring here to material objects, but to skill sets. For example, before cars became common, few people drove, but generally those who did choose to drive took a lot of pride in being able to do it well. They thought of driving as a continual learning experience. Somewhere down the line we as a society decided that automobile ownership should be ubiquitous. This was a direct result of neglecting mass transit and building sprawl in which mass transit could never be viable. In any case, in order for the masses to be able to drive, driving had to be dumbed down. We got used to using traffic control devices instead of driver judgement, building wider, straighter roads which required no skill to drive on, and making the licensing process so easy a dog could pass it. In the end people started seeing driving as just a task to get from point A to point B, and gave it no more thought than a task like sweeping the floor to get the dust off. As a result, people never developed the judgement and car handling skills which are still needed to cope with the inevitable situation where the rules and traffic controls don't tell you what to do (or even worse, when what they tell you to do is wrong for the situation). Despite making the driving process much easier, annual deaths on the road have hovered between 35,000 an 50,000, along with millions of injuries. Even worse, we've just accepted this carnage as the normal price of getting from point A to point B. In a task where lives are at stake, it's never a good idea to take skill and brains out of the loop (unless you can completely automate the task), even if it means you restrict that task to the small subset of the population who can master it.

There's nothing wrong with making something ubiquitous if the downsides generally are outweighed by the upsides. Case in point-the Internet we're all using. Yes, people often moaned that AOL dumbed down the Internet by making it easily accessible even for the computer illiterate. The end result of that today is the heavy advertising aimed at this segment, and also the endless idiotic comments to news articles and blogs. The good part is ubiquity made Internet access faster and cheaper for everyone, and if you know where to go, you can pretty much avoid the mountain of stupidity which plagues cyberspace. This is quite unlike making driving ubiquitous. In the case of driving, stupid people can kill themselves or others. And it's only because of the heavy carnage on our roads that autonomous cars will eventually mean even those who take pride in their driving skills will no longer be able to drive on public roads. Bottom line-if the downsides of making something ubiquitous will harm large numbers of people, then perhaps it's better if we don't until we have the technology to mitigate that harm.
 
Samy

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I was talking to my granddad a few weeks back. He was born in the early 20's and was a kid during the depression and he said life was hard. They had a dirt floor in the house, had to grow and slaughter their own food. No shoes, limited clothing etc. He remembers not being able to be a kid and play because he had to find an income or a way to put food on the table before and after school. He said they were terrible times and no one should have had to go through that. He just about had tears in his eyes. He's seen some things in his days, including being on a battleship during the battle of the coral sea during 1942.

He then said that the era of the baby boomers certainly changed all that, there was work everywhere and incomes grew substantially.

cheers
 
Chauncey Gardiner

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I heard my two sons (16 & 13) laughing so hard I had to investigate. Found them watching Abbott and Costello on the iPad.

~ Chance
 
nbp

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Indeed! A & C Meet Frankenstein is a family favorite. I've been watching that since I was a kid. It still holds up. :)
 
Frijid

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corded phones. when you got made at someone when you talked to someone you could slam the phone back on the reciever. now what you do when mad on a cell phone? push the off button hard? lol
 
PhotonWrangler

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I saw some Clove gum in a nostalgia store just the other week. I bought a couple packages of Fizzies there.
 
EZO

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Yeah, I guess the phrase "nostalgia store" says it all. Many of these items are still made as novelty items. In fact, I bought some Black Jack gum awhile back but there's no more going down to the corner store with a quarter or two to buy these candies. I see you can still get Atomic Fireballs! Remember those weird wax lip candies?
 
Chauncey Gardiner

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^ Reminded me of those candy cigarettes. Gateway drug? How about a gateway candy. I'm betting there's a special place for the three-pice suit who invented those. :devil: Hi, welcome to hell. Would you like smoking or non-smoking? I kid, there is no non-smoking.

~ Chance
 
PhotonWrangler

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Lol, yeah. Speaking of weird wax candies, remember Nick-L-Nips? Little wax bottle shapes with sweet colored liquid inside. I saw those at the same store where I found the Fizzies. They used to sell them at the corner store in my neighborhood also.
 
EZO

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Oh wow, Fizzies.....and Nik-L-Nips! I forgot all about those. Can't believe how much of this stuff we consumed as kids but we loved 'em! And there were whole little armies of kids running around the neighborhood with those lips on their mouths and sucking down the fruit flavored liquid in those bottles. Then you'd spend the rest of the day chewing on the sugared wax. Real American health food for children! :)




 
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PhotonWrangler

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Speaking of Abbott and Costello, here is the sequel to Who's on First, where the audience gets to meet the players. :)

 
Monocrom

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Actually, MetroCards had several advantages over tokens (once the kinks were finally worked out). One, they allow free transfers between buses and subways. Prior to that you had to pay two fares. This put people who didn't live near subway stations at a disadvantage. Two, although not yet implemented, they could in theory allow lower off-peak fares. This would benefit the system by encouraging people to make trips at a time when the marginal cost of an additional passenger is close to zero.

No doubt, there are advantages. Still, doesn't change the fact that the initial MetroCard trial run was a miserable failure. Ben Franklin once came up with a more streamlined and efficient version of the English language. Significantly better in fact. It too was a miserable failure. (Though in that case it was due to adults not wanting to re-learn a language they already knew and had been speaking all their lives.) Someone also came up with a more efficient keyboard set-up than the old QWERTY layout that we're all familiar with. Also, not a huge success at all. Sometimes folks just prefer the old system.

As far as transfers go, I did what many others did when they could. Travel either exclusively by subway or plan the route by using buses so you could transfer from one to the other. Not always ideal. But just the way it was.

I'm sorry, but the City is just too damn greedy to offer off-peak fares. The system is so ridiculously mis-managed. Just today I waited nearly half an hour for an off-peak Q43 bus. When it arrived, guess what? . . . Yup, another Q43 directly behind it! It's not just the Q43. We both know what a sad and pathetic joke it has become with the above scenario played out countless times a day.



When I was referring to telecommuting, I wasn't talking about face-to-face interaction between businesses and potential customers. I was referring to doing the many back-office jobs where a person sits in front of a computer screen all day from home. Besides being better for the workers, businesses would save on office space. The surplus office space could be reconfigured as affordable housing, something which is sorely needed in NYC. It's a win-win situation for just about everyone. I would say at least 75% of jobs are amenable to telecommuting at least part-time. Probably over half can be done completely from home. I do complex electronics projects from home, often interacting with my customers solely by email. If I can do a job like this from home, certainly someone can do data entry or billing from home. You just need a change in mindset where employers insist on watching over their charges like hawks. If the employee isn't doing the job they're being paid to do at home, it'll be obvious pretty quickly. The hard truth is most jobs aren't creative and really don't require any face-to-face interaction with fellow employees.

You raise an excellent point that I failed to mention. I'm sorry, but there are way too many folks out there who would screw around if they worked from home. Yes, sadly, there are folks out there who need to be watched in order to make sure they do their jobs properly. Obviously, there are those who are professional in what they do. But imagine how very inefficient it would be if there was a major screw up? In an enclosed work setting, a supervisor can deal with the matter right away. But if that doesn't exist then what is he to do? Get in his car and drive to the employees house who screwed up? Or, even worse, hop on a plane? With a centralized location where everyone has to report to from 9-5, that type of issue doesn't come up. No need to hunt for the guy who messed up. Also, in bigger companies, if you need to coordinate efforts with other departments, it's much easier from a centralized location. But the biggest issue once again . . . I just don't see folks changing their mentality (collectively speaking) and turning away from the time honored notion of dealing with others face-to-face.

I fully agree about the token clerks. The oft-used excuse for keeping them is that they could call police in case of an emergency. I say if you're going to be paying a person's salary, then why not just station a police officer there who can help instead of a token clerk who (maybe) will call for help if they have nothing better to do.

A couple of days ago, the vending machines inside a popular station were out of order. They put someone into the old token booth to service customers. OH! She was not happy. She refused to say a word. Refused to even give a fake smile. Reminded me of the old days. But definitely not in a nostalgic manner. Yeah, I prefer dealing with the vending machines. They have far more personality and are a lot less rude.

I fully agree about metal toys and really metal anything. I all too often see plastic parts substituted for metal even for parts that get high stress. You just know these parts will break prematurely, and then you'll need to replace the entire item. Where's the efficiency in that?

I buy my niece and nephew stuffed animals. No plastic junk from Uncle Mono! When they get older, I'll buy them books, lights, watches, etc. The only thing made from plastic I'll hand them are their own library cards.

Automated checkout? I'll be happy once we have that perfected in that you can push a shopping cart of items past a scanner and they all get checked out instantly, without needing to put them on a conveyor and scan them one at a time. To me it's adding insult to injury to make me wait on a line to give a store my money. It's even worse now that many stores are cutting their cashier staff to the bone so that you'll even have long lines during off-peak hours. So bring on the automated scanning if you can do an entire cart at once, and also let me pay in cash if I want to . That shouldn't be all that hard. Automated checkout where you need to pay be debit card are just stupid. I never use debit cards. It's all too easy to lose track of how much is in your account if you make many small purchases each day.

Call me crazy, but I prefer to deal with real human-beings.

Automated checkout . . . Okay, why bother even combing my hair, taking a shower, putting on underwear and other clothes, heading outside . . . When I can just buy stuff online with a few keystrokes. Oops! Home Depot and those other places jumping on the automated bandwagon better hope and pray that other consumers don't discover what I just did.

And when I'm done shopping on my computer, I can do all the stuff above, head out the door, and grab some lunch from the little cafe just down the block from my home. The one that definitely isn't automated. The one where they know how I like my coffee, I get greeted with a smile, Lily serves me and she's very nice. And when I'm done, I hand her my money. And Lily's soft feminine hands carefully place my change in my hand. Yeah, the most basic of human contact. But she's a sweet woman, and spending just a bit of time chatting with her while I enjoy my lunch . . . That's worth stepping out the door for. An automated experience?? Bah! Why half-*** it? Log on, buy what you want off the internet.

That's something I hope kids tomorrow never get to miss out on. Basic human contact with someone worth getting to know a bit.

. . . you do know acceleration rates rarely make much of a difference in trip times, don't you? Accelerating to highway speed in 8 seconds instead of 30 seconds might mean an average speed for the trip of 64.9 mph instead of 65 mph. And quickly accelerating away from a green light only to stop 2 blocks later at another red, as many idiot drivers in this city do, makes NO difference at all in travel times. Acceleration is highly overrated. IMO vehicles should accelerate a lot less rapidly so they can't achieve dangerous speeds on urban roads. If you need longer highway entrances for safe merging so be it. That's a small price to pay for greater safety. Now you'll have idiots who accelerate up to 60 mph in one city block just because they can. Maybe the best of both worlds would be an acceleration lockout which limits acceleration rates to something like 1 mph/sec on local streets, but allows full bore acceleration on highways. With GPS, that shouldn't be hard to do. We could even cap speeds at the speed limit on local roads with such a system.

Yup, fully aware of what you mentioned above. Thing is, raw power isn't about sustained speed for the duration of the trip. Raw power is about being able to get your car either out of the way or where it needs to be much faster than normal. You encounter a busy expressway, your car does 0-60 in 14.5 seconds . . . Oh yes, you ARE going to be white-knuckling it down that entrance ramp! I know! My old Ford Escort was that slow. My current ride does 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. Oh yes! HUGE difference. I no longer have to worry about building up enough speed to enter that expressway without possibly being mowed down by a faster driver as I try to merge. My 2nd day of owning my sports sedan, the manual mode slipped out of my hand. By the time I got it pushed back properly, a truck was bearing down on me. I hit the gas and got the Hell out of the way. There are times when you need that raw power. I loved my little Escort. But she had no power. It was one thing, but it was a major thing. One thing for sure, if I ever get rid of my sports sedan (no chance in Hell) I'll definitely replace it with something at least as powerful.
 
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PhotonWrangler

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When a telephone call used to sound clear. In the past 15 years we've been sliding down a slippery slope from good quality audio to barely good enough quality to maintain a conversation. This is a confluence of bad handset/headset design, compression and distant call centers using IP connections with more compression on their end.
 
W

will

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When a telephone call used to sound clear. In the past 15 years we've been sliding down a slippery slope from good quality audio to barely good enough quality to maintain a conversation. This is a confluence of bad handset/headset design, compression and distant call centers using IP connections with more compression on their end.

But - don't forget about those Long Distance telephone bills
 
Tana

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Back in the days, our parents would buy some fruits for home, be it apples or plums or peers... but we hardly ever touched it... not enough craving...

But as soon as we were out (and we spent a LOT of time outside along with other kids, when we were not in school) we would find some poor man's tree and get our t-shirts filled up with "stolen" apples, peers, plums... those fruits were sweet as they can be...

The bought ones that our parents bought for us were never even CLOSE to "sweetness" when eating them...

But those were different times... even if they pretended to be angry, all those neighbors that we were "stealing" fruits from were happy that kids are eating his/her fruits... I mean, they knew all our parents, they know exactly who is who's kid... :) As long as we don't crack branches and damage trees...

Those were the days...

I believe today's kids would be chased with a brick if they would even remotely tried something like that... if they could ever find time for it between stages on game consoles... :)
 
ledmitter_nli

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I seriously am only kidding! :p :sweat:
 

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