Tag: industry

Then and Now: What My Great Grandmother Saw

 

Great Grandma was born in 1900 and died in 1998. What would it have been like to witness these advances in medicine, technology, and opportunity for all?

  In her early years  By the end of her life 
  Expansion and Development: The American West was dominated by miners, ranchers, and cowboys who wouldn’t hesitate to use guns to defend themselves and rode horses right into the saloons.  A hub of innovation and wealth, the West is irrigated, tame, and high-tech, with fantastic freeway systems. 
  Education for the Masses: Schooling was basic, and students were still taught in one-room schoolhouses. Not many advanced beyond grade school.   Most students are encouraged to go on to college and beyond. Schooling for the wealthy looks similar to education for the middle and lower classes. Scholarships and loans abound for both the ambitious and not so ambitious.  
Travel: Continental train travel was just beginning. Horses were still the norm, and roads were rough. Travel by land or sea took weeks.   We board a plane, watch in-flight movies, reach our destination in a matter of hours, and consider an overnight delay to be a huge failure of the system. We all own efficient, fast vehicles. 
Air and Space Technology: Flight had not yet been invented.   Supersonic jets, moon landing, the launch of the International Space Station  
  Quality of Daily Living: The majority of our ancestors still sustained themselves on farms or in factories, going barefoot in the South and getting hookworms, supporting large families, and laboring with cooking and cleaning. Refrigerators and indoor bathrooms were slow in coming. Daily bathing and showering was not a thing.   Most people expect to own their own homes, enjoy modern appliances and daily entertainment, have access to more mass-produced and affordable goods. The way is paved for politicians to use the lack of in-home Internet as an example of poverty in the US. Most people take hot showers or baths every day.  
Medicine: Diabetes was a killer. The first open-heart surgery was decades away. Years of agonizing trial and error lay ahead to pave the way for advanced life-saving surgeries. At least we’d stopped bleeding patients and knew about germs.  Heart, liver, and kidney transplants. Diabetes as a manageable disease. Standardized care and efficiency. We all know someone who wouldn’t be here without modern medicine.   
Mysteries of Life: There were painstaking fruit fly experiments to isolate inherited traits and recognize patterns in genetics.  We began to sequence worm genomes. Human eggs could be fertilized outside the womb.  

Join Jim and Greg for two good martinis and some craziness. They welcome evidence that the spread of COVID-19 may be slowing in New York.  They also salute private industries shifting their focus in big ways to meet the demand for ventilators, masks and more. And they roll their eyes as Nancy Pelosi begins eyeing the next big spending bill.

Russian Ammunition Storage Site Mushroom Cloud

 

A town in Russia is reportedly being evacuated, following a massive series of explosions at a nearby ammunition storage site. The Twitter account @Liveuamap is covering it best. There was a big enough conventional explosion to generate a large mushroom cloud and blast wave in the Achinsk district of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Other video shows a series of explosions and widespread flames.

Member Post

 

OK so once again we are libsplained-to that conservatives are “uneducated.” What this writer is predicting is either wrong as pointed out by one comment, or dire for the country. Because if all the new Trump-generated (desireabe type) economic growth is going to the already-liberal areas, and most future Americans are going to be enfolded […]

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Pencils Are Unsustainable

 

What goes into the making of a single pencil? In 1958, Leonard E. Read asked himself that very question — and wrote an elegant explication:

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, have a profound lesson to teach…. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because — well, because I am seemingly so simple.

In his piece we’re taken step-by-step through the entire process of how a single pencil is produced.

Producers Are Consumers, Too

 

In debates on trade, it’s a sure inevitability that some free-marketeer will defend cheap imports on the grounds that they make goods more affordable to American consumers. This is, so far as it goes, absolutely true. But the equally inevitable retort from trade-skeptics that cheap flatscreen TVs are no good to those without jobs is also true, at least so far as it goes. Both sides, unfortunately are missing a critically important point: Most American manufacturers are also American consumers, and in a very significant way.

Just last month, our own Skipsul provided an eye-opening example of this in his piece “I, Circuit Board,” which detailed how his automotive electronics manufacturing company relies on a web of supply chains that stretch across half the world, starting with raw materials, and proceeding through a series of intermediate products that culminate in a single consumer good. And the less expensive a given input for Skip, the more money he has to put to other uses, whether it be lowering prices, improving his product, hiring new workers, increasing wages, or giving him enough cash on hand to pursue his hobbies or further upgrade his Ricochet membership. (Just sayin’. Hey, we’re an American employer, too!)

Member Post

 

I build hard drive parts for a living. Specifically, I work for Hutchinson Technology, and we make suspensions. A suspension connects the read/write head on a platter style hard drive to the rest of the computer. (If you’re looking at the picture, the read/write head gets stuck on the left.) The company started in a […]

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The Means of Consumption

 

One of the great intellectual tragedies of the Left — which, it should be noted, pale in comparison to its practical tragedies — is that it’s focused discussion on how goods are produced, rather than how they are consumed.

This is hardly surprising: not that Marx or Engels knew a damn thing about it, but working conditions in the 18th and 19th centuries were downright brutal. Mines, pollution, and back-breaking, mind-killing drudgery were hardly innovations but, even if we stipulate that portrayals of pre-industrial farming are highly romanticized, at least there was something about work in the open air that could be made attractive with enough polish. Coal mining and textile mills have never attracted the kind of poetical praise that farming and shepherding once did, and for good reason.

Member Post

 

I posted last week about automation, and how it won’t take everyone’s job away At least not quickly. But people still lose jobs to robots. More and more low-skill jobs are disappearing because they’re just cheaper to do with a robot. So what do you do if your job is getting replaced by a robot? […]

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Toyota Plant

The Robot Revolution Will Be Delayed

 

Every so often on Ricochet, I read another thread about automation, the decreasing demand for factory workers and what this bodes for the future.  Or about education and training our workforce for tomorrow.  Someone on these threads always asks the titular question, although I’ve never seen it put so indelicately:  “Your robot factory of the future will need scientists and engineers, but not guys turning wrenches on the assembly line.  What about the people who just aren’t that smart?  What will they do when their jobs get automated away?”

Well, I walk the concrete for a living and I’m writing this just after my night shift support tech job let out.  I’ve got a couple points to make, which the pundits don’t usually cover.

Member Post

 

In his 1758 work, “The Way to Wealth,” Benjamin Franklin wrote: “In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it is as plain as the way to market.  It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality.”  In other words, if a person does not produce or does not save, he is likely to be poor.  Pointing this […]

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