Forward to the Past

Spring may have arrived! I got to go execute constitutional in the park this morning. Dihydrogen oxide fell most of the night and was still when I left Castellum SCP but the volumetric rate of fall was small and I only got wetted below the rain coat, a rather horrible thing from the Maine Guide Store with fleece lined sleeves. Nasty things. Horrible to put on and take off. Whoever designed should entertain a firing party for one volley. 

Anyway, the podcast was an episode of “Linux Luddites” that I initiated yesterday in gym and had time left over so I continued it as I maneuvered puddles on the path. And reminded myself repeatedly to refresh the accumulators in my head lamp. Anyway one of the things they were discussing was the ethical dimensions of FOSS and mentioned the good old days of mainframes. This prompted my attention span – time to the matter.

I first encountered main frames as a freshman. My previous experience had been limited to standardized tests, mostly the ACT/SAT sort of thing. Gathering rather redolent of cattle at the slaughter house. No expectation of any resolution. Perhaps the basis of all adolescent rebellion in my generation. I clearly recall taking an aptitude test at an induction call-up and being whispered about, inveigled to enlist in officer’s training and then told to go home because of hypertension.  Somehow that chain epitomized the wgole standardized test in society thing.

I should probably also warn that as an ORF I am not as accepting of change as I used to be. Although I am not sure I was very much that way. I have always been a late adopter of all but nerd tech. When the HP-35 came out I wanted one enough to sell my nonexistent children. But I stopped short of buying one because my TA stipend wouldn’t cover that and food and somehow eating seemed a bonny addiction. So take what comes with a bit of ‘grano’.

Computers were better in those days. We used them for real work, crunching numbers on all manner of reality things. I spent a lot of senior year time doing molecular structure calculations and drawing graphs by hand. And typing my senior thesis on my typewriter. No word processing on mainframes!

And no cellular telephones. The only mobile phones were radio phones which were almost nonexistent and tied to motorcars. But we had CB radios and they were better than cellulars since we could talk car-to-car and didn’t have to know who we were calling. And if we were late for dinner then we took our admonition.

The only thing I really think is great is the digital camera. All we had then were film cameras and one pretty much had to have considerable skill to be a wake-maker with those. And no matter what, you had to wait for the picture. Of course, it was on paper, but that made it somehow more memorable and important, and besides the pictures were always better than they are now, a result of photographer talent and training. 

I am not sure we were not more productive in those days. Yes, it took us a long time to write/publish stuff and we didn’t “communicate” as much but somehow the publications were better, especially better written, and the communications were memorable and important. We didn’t call home to discuss the grocery list. 

I don’t know that things were better then but I do know they were more satisfying. The food was better, we didn’t obsess over weather, and we didn’t have our lives run by our pocket boxes.

Selah. So sayeth an ORF writing a blot. Fundamentally contradictory.

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