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The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the 3d-printers-for-freedom dept.

United States 525

Hugh Pickens writes "Louis Uchitelle writes that in Aisle 34 of Home Depot is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don't want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer, as mastering tools and working with one's hands recede as American cultural values. 'At a time when the American factory seems to be a shrinking presence, and when good manufacturing jobs have vanished, perhaps never to return, there is something deeply troubling about this dilution of American craftsmanship,' writes Uchitelle. 'Craftsmanship is, if not a birthright, then a vital ingredient of the American self-image as a can-do, inventive, we-can-make-anything people.' Mass layoffs and plant closings have drawn plenty of headlines and public debate over the years, and they still occasionally do. But the damage to skill and craftsmanship — what's needed to build a complex airliner or a tractor, or for a worker to move up from assembler to machinist to supervisor — has gone largely unnoticed. 'In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,' says Michael Hout. 'People who work with their hands are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.' The damage to American craftsmanship seems to parallel the precipitous slide in manufacturing employment. And manufacturing's shrinking presence helps explain the decline in craftsmanship, if only because many of the nation's assembly line workers were skilled in craft work. 'Young people grow up without developing the skills to fix things around the house,' says Richard T. Curtin. 'They know about computers, of course, but they don't know how to build them.'"

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525 comments

boobie (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747325)

first post

Re:boobie (2, Informative)

TheoGB (786170) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747347)

Quite an achievement on an article so devoid of content worth commenting on. Hey, Baby-Boomers, if you're so pissed off with how the world's turned out maybe you shouldn't have pulled the ladder up after yourselves?

Re:boobie (0)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747905)

Oh you crazy kids...

We weren't pulling the ladder up after ourselves, we were incentivizing you to inherit your own damn ladder, just like we did!

Not me! (1, Funny)

garaged (579941) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747335)

I can build a computer !

Of course, Im 38

Re:Not me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747555)

I am 32.
Back when I purchased my first PC to retire my Amiga 500 it took me about 3 months to find the courage to take it apart, clean it, put it back together and see that it still worked. I was in ~6th grade at that time.

The "technicians" applying for our jobs nowadays are fucking clueless.
Most suck because they have grown up with the "simply buy a replacement" attitude ... just solder a new power/USB connector onto the PCB and be done with it.

Re:Not me! (5, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747897)

My mom taught primary school back in the day. She noticed that the kids (ages 5-8, depending on which grade she was teaching each year) who came from the apartment blocks down the street had no finger dexterity at all - their hands were like clubs because they had never had any practice _doing_ anything, never got to go outside and play, make things, but just watched TV. This was back in the mid-1960s. Many of them were 'latchkey kids' whose parents both worked, so these kids went to school, came home and sat alone in the apartment until Mom and/or Dad came home. It's been a problem for a long time.

Another part of the problem is the relative cost of parts vs. assembled units. I recall wanting to fix a toaster (about 1970) that had stopped working - the nichrome wire inside had burned out. The cost of the wire was only slightly less than the cost of a new toaster. I think it's even worse today as increasingly automated manufacturing makes assembled units so cheap. I've noticed that in general it's cheaper to buy a new bookcase than to buy the wood to build your own of the same quality, _if_ you're that good - it's hard to match the precision with which even Ikea furniture is made.

Re:Not me! (5, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747899)

It's not that they are clueless. I've seen some young kids (16-18 or so) able to rebuild computers, car engines, do almost any arbitrary house work, etc.

I'm 30, I'll rebuild computers, and wire a house. Aside from that, my manual skills are, admittedly, limited. The rest doesn't interest me, and I know people I can call for help to get the job done better than a handy man, and with less time than it would take me to do it myself - I'll learn a bit along the way as well, to help with doing the smaller repairs. And my friends get excellent cooking and/or money. Everyone wins. Some of them instead of taking food or money, get assistance from me in computer related stuff, tutoring their kids or themselves in a mathematical, computer or scientific subject, etc.

If you don't have the interest, and don't need to do it, there really isn't a good reason to worry about it beyond a modest familiarity. Could you live your lifestyle, having built everything you own, from the ground up? Probably not, you don't have the time. The point is to be good at at least a few things, and then know who to talk to, to get the rest done effectively, and if possible, know enough of the basics to shave off some diagnostic time.

Read... (1)

jmd (14060) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747351)

The Craftsman by Richard Sennet.

Re:Read... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747951)

It's truly sad. In my day we cut down our own trees, stripped the logs, laid them carefully on top of one another, and created a beautiful home that can withstand the worst storms. NOW people buy these frame homes with walls as thin as paper. Sure they cost less and can be built in a week, but what a loss of craftsmanship! (published in 1850)

prefab windows are a good thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747371)

How are you going to put your own low-e argon gas between the panes?

A buddy of mine is a contractor, about as handy a man as you'll find, and he damn well does not build his own windows.

Re:prefab windows are a good thing (1)

syntheticmemory (1232092) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747841)

My house just wouldn't be the same without Marvin windows.... One of the carpenters building my house was given the nickname "ol' one board" because (seemingly) he could make one board last all day.

Justification of Apathy (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747377)

Listen, DIY is great. And I'm a huge fan of building things with your hands but as someone who grew up working on farms, framing houses and bussing tables I have to say that this sort of lament is laughable from my point of view. I'm sitting now in an air conditioned room, working at my own pace and making orders of magnitude more writing software than walking up and down a field picking up rocks so they don't ruin the discer. Oh, go right ahead and laugh, farming machines are funny words to people who haven't had to fix a broken belt or jerry rig up something on the fly: discer, thresher, bailer, huller, etc.

in Aisle 34 of Home Depot is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don't want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer, as mastering tools and working with one's hands recede as American cultural values.

Yes, I've also heard software developers complain that today you can use ExtJS 4 to instantly have a windowing option in your browser and now it's sad because all the UI guys are using something like this. These "prefab architectures" are so terrible because nobody actually writes JavaScript anymore. Well, I know how to put together a window sill, a window frame and put the pane in and everything (even know how to build the headers for load bearing regulations on houses). And I'll tell you right now my implementation of a JavaScript windowing system wouldn't be as slick or universal as ExtJS 4 just like my window would be pretty shitty compared to something prefabbed up. Both would cost my employers more time and money. I would wager that if you were someone that built houses for a living, you would be okay with someone else putting together factory made windows with a low defect rate. Unsurprisingly it saves you a bunch of money just like a lot of software libraries save me time and money.

Yeah, I can make a table. But I need a jointer and a planer and whole bunch of other tools. The barrier to entry is high. Or I can go down to Ikea and find some veneered particle board for comparative pennies. Welcome to capitalism.

'In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,'

Oh, right, your ancestors were the farmers. It was okay for you to move on to something more interesting like building houses and cities instead of devoting every waking moment to growing growing growing. Now we've moved on and it's time to mourn the loss of ... what exactly? Am I supposed to feel ashamed that all four of my grandparents were farmers and none of their 14 children are? Or that my dad was a carpenter and cement pourer and I'm a software developer? It's funny, none of my relatives guilt trip me like this New York Times writer that probably hasn't spent a day of his life working in a factory.

From the NYTimes author's bio:

Mr. Uchitelle was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York in 2002-03 and taught journalism for many years at Columbia University’s School of General Studies. Before joining The Times, he worked for The Associated Press as a reporter, an editor and a foreign correspondent in Latin America. He and his wife, Joan Uchitelle, live in Scarsdale, N.Y. They have two grown daughters.

Hey, anybody know of a good factory job near Scarsdale for Mr. Uchitelle? Maybe one of those industrial revolution jobs with industrial revolution pay? Then I think I'll listen to him bitch and moan about how progress is losing our nation's toolbox. Afterwards, take him around to farms at night (you know, the ones where people are working after sundown and before sunup) and let everyone tell him their stories about how they were injured on the job. Every hard working farmer or carpenter has those stories. I still got all my digits and feel lucky as hell. Maybe Mr. Uchitelle is sad he never got his chance to see a nail-head strip off and pass through the 2x4 into your coworker's fingers? I saw that a few feet from my face at age sixteen and you'll have to excuse me for seeking safer, higher paying employment.

Re:Justification of Apathy (2, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747457)

Prefab windows might be reliable but they look bland and unoriginal. Just like all the ExtJS/jQuery/Web 2.0 effects and widgets you see these days.

If you want something out of the ordinary you'll have to make it yourself or pay through the nose for someone else to.

Re:Justification of Apathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747667)

A-fucking-men.

Re:Justification of Apathy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747703)

They are all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same...

Re:Justification of Apathy (1)

hackula (2596247) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747971)

Windows are generally one thing in your house that you do not want to be too "original" with. They ensure that your house stays energy efficient. When they are not done correctly, you almost certainly will get mold, many varieties of which can KILL you. If you do have money to burn, then this is a custom job for a professional. A DIYer is not going to be able to build safe, energy efficient, and reliable windows period. Where I live (east coast US), windows also have to be hurricane rated by law. This basically means that they will not break when a 8ft 2x4 is shot at 150 mph directly at them. Good luck with that, if you just threw it together yourself.

Re:Justification of Apathy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747517)

Two things: no one who has worked on a farm says 'discer'. It's a disc.

And it's called the glorification of the pastoral. We remember the olden times as being better than what they are now, and want to return to 'simpler times'. Most people don't understand the work that goes into farms or factories, they just believe that all farmers and factory workers have good, wholesome, Merkin' values.

Ya Caught Me (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747647)

no one who has worked on a farm says 'discer'. It's a disc.

It's true. I've been living a lie. Sure, I talk the talk and I might sound like I've worked on farms but it's all a sham. "Why do I do it?" Well, there's something about being able to tell all the Carnegie Mellon, Princeton and MIT graduates I work with that I spent my childhood picking up rocks and throwing bails. I keep a bucket of pig shit behind my house and sometimes I just smear that all over me before I hit the town. But it's all a lie. I'll step into the local bar and the women will take one whiff of that sweet fecal matter and come running to me. "What were you doing today, eldavojohn?" they ask as they swoon around me. "Castratin' pigs," I'll lie. And they will just fall all over each other to touch me. I know, it's all very glamorous but it requires a lot of research to go into detail about making two incisions to get the testicles out on the small male pigs and then wiping them down with antibiotic. Or injecting the blue crap into the female piglets' ovaries. Women just absolutely adore a man who knows his way around ending the reproductive cycle of pigs. Bring up that topic at a fine family dinner and even East Coast grandma is on the edge of her seat.

And the money. My god, the money I've made claiming to have worked on farms. I get $25,000 a night just to make an appearance at places and rub elbows with businessmen, musicians and diplomats. They would trot me out like a one trick pony and all ask me questions -- hanging on my every word. That too, has been all a lie. "Con man" would be a kind label for me now.

But you caught me. I never worked on farms growing up. I only brag about walking up and down scorching black earth, picking up any baseball sized or larger rock and returning it to the flatbed behind the tractor. But I've never done it. Never done it for hundreds of hours every summer between the hours of 5am and 11am daily. Never received $8/hour under the table nor the right to use some of their equipment at my folks' place. The details are there but the colloquialism of "discer" versus "disc" ruined me. I suppose this slip has been a blessing in disguise.

I'm glad you caught me before I cut off one of my own fingers so I could tell people I lost it trying to free up the gears of a frozen motor. All the Slashdot karma that would have gotten me and all the pussy that would have been so easily accessible with only nine fingers would have been great -- but it all would have been a lie.

Thank you, Anonymous Coward. Thank you for helping me help myself and own up to this horrible vile lie that has given me an undue elevated societal status.

Re:Justification of Apathy (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747601)

If only I could reach through the monitor and slap people. This is not progress. This is classic cultural decline. When you no longer have the expertise to do something, even a basic something, you are at the mercy of those who do. It's a form of competition. The experts can cost cost more, but not too much more cause you'll just do it yourself. But when you can no lnger do it, they can charge whatever they want. And give you whatever quality they want, cause you no longer possess the knowledge to know the difference. It's also very much a reflection of mindset. The article captures it perfectly, it is a decline in the can-do, get-it-done mentality. Taming the continent gave us that mindset, and it lasted a few generations. Now we just want our A/c and our tv and our beer and some trashy "reality" on TV, and for someone else, like big brother, to just take care of everything, including us. The next frontier is space, and we are not leading the way. We will be passed shortly by some other country. And in learning to tame space, that culture will develop that self-reliant can-do attitude that we used to have. And then they will dominate world (galactic?) events until they too become apathetic and slip into cultural decline.

Re:Justification of Apathy (1)

aurispector (530273) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747651)

When we started outsourcing jobs we also outsourced expertise. The US used to have a colossal pool of engineers, scientists and skilled workers. All that went overseas to china who, incidentally, understand this transfer of expertise and it's strategic importance.

We are left with a nation of unskilled workers, managers and clerks.

Re:Justification of Apathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747725)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcSxL8GUn-g&list=PL79184D14F872B80D

Re:Justification of Apathy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747741)

What are you talking about? Division of labor is the very definition of civilization.

In pre-civilized societies, everyone did everything themselves, and so everyone was a hunter/gatherer who did absolutely nothing but struggle to survive from day to day. If you weren't catching your food, you were making the tools needed to catch your food or making the clothing to survive the elements. What a dreary, depressing, cultureless, pleasureless existence.

With division of labor--i.e., civilization--we no longer have to struggle to survive. We can create culture specifically because we don't have to do everything ourselves. The less we have to do ourselves, the more civilized we are, and the richer and more meaningful our lives become.

The fact that wecan lounge around in an air-conditioned room watching TV and drinking beer makes us superior.

Re:Justification of Apathy (3, Interesting)

neyla (2455118) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747925)

Yeah, in principle sure. But here's the thing: increased specialization and mass-production means that it's not just you who can't build a good-quality window with your own two hands and basic tools. Indeed *nobody* can. The only way to build a modern window at a reasonable cost, is to make a *shitload* of them at the same time.

The objection that they can then charge anything is valid - if there's insufficient competition in the market. This is a good reason to be real vigilant about anti-trust.

Yeah, I know less about farming than my grandfather did. But I know a lot more about photography, about computer-programming, about electronics, about user-interfaces, about a whole lot of things that are relevant in my world, but wasn't in his.

People learn what they need to live in the world they live in. News at 11.

Re:Justification of Apathy (1)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747619)

I sometimes think Slashdot needs a "Like" button for posts like this but then I consider the broader implications.

But sometimes... sometimes, in my dreams, I imagine it.

Re:Justification of Apathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747625)

Listen, DIY is great. And I'm a huge fan of building things with your hands but [...]

OK now I understand the problem ...

Re:Justification of Apathy (2)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747649)

It all comes down to pure profit. If the company doesn't make enough money, it will sell that factory and built one where it's cheaper. He will export his products where he can make more profit. Like you said, " Welcome to capitalism." Your right on that. There seems to be 2 different views from both our generation and theirs and what they don't seem to grasp is the world is turning and in constant evolution. There's so many stores, the market is saturated with them so it makes those products very cheap almost to a point where building it yourself makes it totally pointless. Sure some people work on the field, some still build tables, wood furniture and all those things. But theres a group of people who only buys them and will never work to build one himself. Why build one yourself when it's available for pennies at your local store or at Ikea. Besides, the latest generation here are not skilled like our "great parents" were 50-80 years ago. They didn't have an Ikea down their street.

Re:Justification of Apathy (1)

Troyusrex (2446430) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747689)

Of all the days not to have mods points! While long this post is well reasoned, well argued and fits into my preconceived biases (in other words, I think it's right on but recognize I'm coming from a particular viewpoint).

Re:Justification of Apathy (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747759)

>>>I'm sitting now in an air conditioned room, working at my own pace and making orders of magnitude more writing software than walking up and down a field picking up rocks so they don't ruin the discer.

Well said.

I've been criticized by my local flying club because I buy premade models (Ready-To-Fly and Almost-Ready-to-Fly)(RTF and ARF). But you know what? I don't care. I've built the models by hand and it was boring work that was not fun at all. I'd rather pay an extra $30 to let the people at Tower Hobbies assemble the plane for me, so that I can spend less time in the basement and more time doing aerobatics.

And frankly I'd never visit a Home Depot. I have zero interest in laying tile on my floor, preglued or otherwise. Let an expert come-in and do it for me, while I catchup on engineering work (which will pay for the tiler's labor). While I do use ancient computers like an XP Desktop running on a P4, and a TV built in the 80s, that's only because they haven't broken yet. The minute these gadgets break I'll be swapping them out for a new machine rather than waste time trying to fix old tech.

Re:Justification of Apathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747803)

Is the author actually insinuating that we should build our own windows? A handyman simply can't build a low-emittance insulating double-pane glass window with an argon buffer.

In Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don't want to be your own handyman...

Re:Justification of Apathy (2)

neyla (2455118) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747829)

Indeed. This is just whining. No I don't make my windows myself, if I did they'd be more expensive, and leak heat like a seave, compared to a modern sealed triple-glass argon-filled thing. I could though, assuming I was satisfied with 100 year old standard of windows.

The main reason you replace instead of repairing is the same: a generation ago a washing-machine cost the equivalent of a months pay, thus if it was broken and could be repaired in a day, it was a no-brainer to do so. Today a (much better!) machine cost less than a weeks pay, thus it's less obvious that the repair is gonna be worth it.

get off my lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747401)

sounds like progress, why cut when you can buy precut.

Cheap import junk (3, Informative)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747407)

It's getting hard to find anything but pre-pack import junk at Lowes and Home Depot. "Brass" fittings are cheaply plated steel that rusts when you look at it sideways, Kobalt tools are half plastic -- it's like a branch of Wal-Mart. If my local hardware guy doesn't have it, I mail order. The only things I go to Lowes for are immediate needs.

Re:Cheap import junk (5, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747659)

Odd, over here (the Netherlands) the opposite has happened, and DIY chains now sell more up-market fittings as well as the cheap stuff. With tools, it's the other way around: we now have a lot of cheap tools from China, of varying quality. And that's fine as well: power tools that used to be prohibitively expensive for the occasional user are now affordable. That Chinese drill motor with pneumatic hammer isn't going to be as nice and long-lasting as the one from DeWalt, but it's good enough for drilling a few holes to hang paintings or chisel old tiles off the bathroom wall, and it's only a hundred euros instead of 600 for a pro tool.

As for declining skills, I'd have to agree with the article's author. I think part of the problem is that being a craftsman isn't cool anymore... ok, perhaps it never really was cool, but at least good craftsmen got some respect, and it was a viable career choice for many. Nowadays, you can still make a decent living doing that sort of work, but if you enroll in trade school, people will think there's something wrong with you. The general sentiment seems to be that winners do knowledge work or at least get to boss other people around; if you actually work with your hands, you're a loser. And even trade school is changing to reflect the idea that everyone needs to be in "services", dropping classes that teach actual skill in favour of management crap or theoretical stuff, the idea being that everyone needs to be a knowledge worker to some degree.

Pointless "Kids These Days" Article (2)

N3tRunner (164483) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747409)

I'm 29 and I can repair things around the house just fine, thank you. I guess this article is talking about people younger than me, but I doubt many of them own houses...

Re:Pointless "Kids These Days" Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747491)

You are hardly a "kid" at 29 kid. I completely agree though, useless article,

Re:Pointless "Kids These Days" Article (3, Insightful)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747687)

I was about to say "tell me something i don't know". The middle class that owns a house, work 40 hours in a week are almost forced to be a diy guy (or girl ? ) since they are not rich people. I don't know for all of you but I like building things, repairing and renovation things by myself. It makes me feel useful and it will serve as a good example for my son.

Re:Pointless "Kids These Days" Article (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747817)

I agree. I was pretty much useless at handy man activities until I bought a house. It's amazing how much contractor bills can convince you to learn. I can fix/build most simple stuff now if I have a need, but I also know that for anything complicated a contractor will probably do a better job and do it faster. Depending on the required tool investment he might even do it cheaper. I think that most home owners who aren't either rich or stupid pick up the basics if they didn't learn them from a father or uncle (these days possibly a mother or aunt). Anything more than the basics tends to quickly get beyond the point of diminishing returns.

The Obvious Jokes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747413)

We have plenty of tools in the American toolbox already. I will have to point out, however, that on a personal basis I am unable to use a stud finder, as it does not function properly when I am around it. Weird. Also, my friend has a pipe stretcher and a bucket of prop wash I have yet to see.

Re:The Obvious Jokes... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747473)

It's not just you. Stud finders don't work for anybody.

Re:The Obvious Jokes... (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747571)

It's not just you. Stud finders don't work for anybody.

Yep. They should be called nail/screw finders, because that's what they can find. And electrical cables, if you're unlucky...

I blame the legal system, and cheap Asian labor (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747419)

It's hard for a craftsman to know if he's violating a patent, environmental law, or something that will make a TSA knuckle-dragger feel is a weapon of mass destruction.

Car manufacturers seem intent on specifically requiring special tools for their cars, and use patents to protect them.

The DMCA, copyright, and patent laws make it neigh illegal to tinker with electronic devices you've bought, because some a$$hole in Holywood bought some corrupt legislators. I mean, discussed how to make America more competitive in a global IP marketplace.

Finally, cheap manufacturing from Asia has lead to a situation where it's cheaper to replace consumer products than to repair them. So how are many people going to learn repair skills on them? It's certainly not a valid career path in the U.S.

Re:I blame the legal system, and cheap Asian labor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747585)

Modern philosophy of buying new junk is very sad. Nothing is repairable, everything seems to be junk. People want cheap and just replace broken cheap junk. It's a win for manufacturers in Asia. The biggest loser is the environment. Oh, corps and fat cats are going green, that's for sure. Greenbacks.

Fundamental breakdown in the concept of causality (3, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747433)

Just as people now believe that you can run perpetual Federal deficits, or that all children are above average, or that form is more important than function, or that you can borrow more money to buy a house than you can pay back, there's a growing disdain for people who point out that the emperor has no clothes. Tell people you work on your own car instead of dropping it off at the dealer? Subtle sneer. Drive a used car instead of a new one? Sneer. Study hard and get good grades? You're just a dork, and you're not cool. It's the same anti-science mentality that's been around for years, now broadening to the more practical skills.

It's also the Walmart mentality - why buy something for $100 that lasts forever when you can buy one a Walmart for $9.99 and replace it every six months?
Just as people no longer distinguish between news and entertainment, they can no longer distinguish crap from quality. Our cultural egalitarianism now covers everything - and since values are subjective, who are you to say that 1 person's skills are better than another? They're just different, right?

As a homeowner, the only decent work I've had done at my house has been by older, family-run businesses. Newer, younger contractors inevitably do a horrible job and require constant handholding.

Personally, I'm glad that I'll be dead in 40 years - the way things are going I think soon after that we'll be back living in caves.

Re:Fundamental breakdown in the concept of causali (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747531)

Oh, man, I bet you're right. I bet that the new generation will fuck us completely. I also bet that never, in the history of the species, has an older generation believed that it was better than the youth.

Re:Fundamental breakdown in the concept of causali (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747753)

Thanks to our school system here in Québec the only thing they try to learn kids are 3 things, french, math and english language... that's it. Nothing else. I was lucky enough to have more diversity in my education as geometry, some class in lessons on how to work with a budget and everything about economics. I also had some class on making wood and metal objects and how to work with various tools around a workshop. Sorry, those names were in french but the description should be clear enough. Today, all they have is 3 major class and some credits on the side but that's it.

Re:Fundamental breakdown in the concept of causali (2)

Bigbutt (65939) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747743)

It's more like, why buy something that lasts forever for $100 that I'll use maybe 10 times over 2 or 3 sessions when I can buy a $9.99 one when I need it which might last until the second time, or not. Then I can save 80 or 90 bucks. And in the event the $100 lasts until I die, my kids will likely already have that particular item or even worse, they won't know what the hell it is or why I'm still carting the damn thing around with me 20 years later.

[John]

Re:Fundamental breakdown in the concept of causali (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747787)

I'm glad that I'll be dead in 40 years

- it's this type of mentality. You son of a bitch, you are supposed to live forever, your country depends on your ability to pay taxes, taxes is where all the action is at, how dare you?

Craftsmanship isn't gone, just different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747435)

The author's myopic view would exclude the myriad makers, Instructables authors, etc. that are every bit the craftsmen he laments about.

Typical knee-jerk luddite story (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747475)

The tools of the 21st century are not cutting knives and hacksaws, sorry. Prefab is going to become easier and easier. Never mind slow and expensive Fab @ Home stuff - automated cutting machines and delivery networks will let you acquire custom-designed and -fitted furniture, flooring, etc. etc. as easily as you buy a book from Amazon today; snap your room with your smartphone, click buy flooring, and it's there on Tuesday at 9am for the price you'd pay Home Depot for some low-quality one-size-fits-all rubbish today.

Then people can spend their limited free time on other pursuits, which will again be given up 100 years hence, to the predictable wails of the luddites of the future.

Re:Typical knee-jerk luddite story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747563)

Better yet, 3-D printers will let you just download furniture as easily as buying a song on iTunes.

Re:Typical knee-jerk luddite story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747589)

I don't see it; they'll be used to make small parts, especially replacement parts, but it's still going to be way more efficient to cut large pieces in a factory somewhere.

Re:Typical knee-jerk luddite story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747643)

Oh, I'm not saying it'll happen now or even this decade.

But by the time I'm an old geezer, 3-D printers will be as necessary as computers.

Re:Typical knee-jerk luddite story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747733)

I'm thinking even longer timescales. Growing something in large pieces and then cutting them down to size is never going to go away as a manufacturing method, even when we have self-assembling nanobots, because of the cost and speed factor. I think everyone will have access to 3D printing, and it will grow to encompass a wide range of materials, and it will allow people to fix things they've never been able to fix before. But, the size of the printer needed to make a 1m square panel is not something you're going to fit in every home, and the time needed to make a panel that size is only going to diminish by a few orders of magnitude.

It's like subtractive and additive synthesis. Sure, 3D printers will be commonplace within 10-20 years, but the USS Enterprise will still be built from cut metal (albeit perfect pieces of nanobot-constructed steel).

But yeah, we can agree to differ :)

More Craftsmanship, more precision (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747477)

Have you any idea how much work goes into making and designing production robots, computers and 3d printers? You forget about meta craftsmanship / craftswomanship ...

change of perspective (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747479)

This is yet another in a long line of alarmist articles about the 'loss of' X or Y in our modern technological culture. What is being missed is that this state of affairs is exactly was Capitalism was meant to bring about, a day when we all have much more leisure time because automation and division of labour has made long hours of back-breaking subsistence working obsolete. What we should be asking is not 'how do we go back to hard work with our hands?' but how do we transition to a new model (a post recession model) which acknowledges that there is no viable reason for people to need to be working 40+ hours a week. We can then realise that we can work with our hands, enjoy DIY and reconnect with the land in a way that is about personal growth, community and coexistence, instead of commerce, because commerce takes less and less work to keep running. It's not a hippy dream, or a Socialist agenda, it's actually the victory of the Capitalist model being unable to see it's own success clear enough to embrace it yet.

Re:change of perspective (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747921)

This is yet another in a long line of alarmist articles about the 'loss of' X or Y in our modern technological culture. What is being missed is that this state of affairs is exactly was Capitalism was meant to bring about, a day when we all have much more leisure time because automation and division of labour has made long hours of back-breaking subsistence working obsolete. What we should be asking is not 'how do we go back to hard work with our hands?' but how do we transition to a new model (a post recession model) which acknowledges that there is no viable reason for people to need to be working 40+ hours a week. We can then realise that we can work with our hands, enjoy DIY and reconnect with the land in a way that is about personal growth, community and coexistence, instead of commerce, because commerce takes less and less work to keep running. It's not a hippy dream, or a Socialist agenda, it's actually the victory of the Capitalist model being unable to see it's own success clear enough to embrace it yet.

Spare me the religion. Capitalism is about leveraging Capital. That's it. Anything else is incidental. Certainly it wasn't brought about to provide a 40-hour work week or leisure time. Go back and read what some of the 19th century capitalists had to say about giving workers Saturdays off so that they could spend time in sloth, idleness, depravity and beer-drinking. Hmmm.

Making Capitalism out to be a purely benevolent force is no more realistic than saying that all rain is good and just as mindlessly simplistic as saying that all Socialism is evil. Or that a single bed fits all people.

Re:change of perspective (3, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747927)

I think the base problem is envy. If you gave a top 10%er of 1700 the chance to live like a bottom 10% today I think they would take you up on it. You can live better now on the hand me downs of our economy than you could working your ass off back then. The problem is that people are envious of the over achievers. It's not fair they get their huge houses and expensive cars and vacations. Now I agree there are many that get rich through fraud in the financial industry.

There is always a trade off between leisure and labor. I think 40 hours might be near where most people make that trade. They want enough money to be able to do something with their leisure. They see expensive things and are willing to labor to afford it. I'm fine with that. I can't see spending money on a far off vacation that is over in a week. I'd rather spend that money on something for my house that I can enjoy forever. But I don't begrudge people that want the vacation but I don't appreciate when they are envious of my possessions. They don't see the vacations I didn't take or the yard work I do every week or the meals my wife cooks at home when we didn't go out to eat.

Things change. (3, Funny)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747495)

Sorry, but they do.

Inevitable really. With a large service sector comes services. Services like having a kitchen installed or a carpet laid. I don't see it as a bad thing, if anything it shows a marginal increase in living standards.

As an aside, all these rose tinted submissions are getting silly. Before long it'll be "Slashdot. News for reactionaries, stuff used to be better."

I hate luddites (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747521)

Sounds like the same assholes who, after writing was invented, stared bitching and moaning about how nobody practices oral tradition anymore.

Fucking luddite cunts.

Also, "our connection to the land" sounds suspiciously like Blut und Boden. It's really not surprising--most neo-Nazis are luddites like Pentti Linkola who want to force us to revert to pre-industrial lifestyles.

Cooking, too (4, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747535)

Same with cooking. With so many pre-packaged frozen meals, fresh pre-prepared ready-to-cook meals at the grocery store, vacuum-packed foods, ubiquitous drive-thrus, and universal Take Out Taxi restaurant delivery, cooking is either a lost art or relegated to holidays and "I'm going to cook today" days. The gourmet kitchen has become the SUV room of the house -- a $50k expense useful for that one excursion spent off-roading or the one blizzard of 24".

Division of labor is a double-edged sword. More cynically, one might say it is seductive, tempting the populace into comfort in exchange for reduction of self-sufficiency, independence, resilience, and sustainability.

Re:Cooking, too (4, Interesting)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747635)

Mod up. And cue the Heinlen quote: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Re:Cooking, too (0)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747785)

women belong in kitchen, there good in the kitchen but when a man goes in there, he's a pure fucking cooking god... Look at me women, yes you, you breeding pop hole, learn something good about this kitchen. your good and I don't complain since i don't make the food tonight but when I'm here I expect the same thing.

I like DIY... but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747549)

You need money to buy tools, and money to pay for a place to store them. You need a place to do your work, which also may cost money, and the time to do the work, and I have little enough time as it is. On top of all of this, if you do pay all of this so you can do your big project, will you use those tools again? When's the next time my DIY project needs the big table saw?

My father had the storage space, the place to work, the tools (some inherited, some bought, a few made). He did work for his family, friends, neighbors, community. I'd have loved to do that kind of work. But he lived in a different world, practically- My family are few now and scattered far and wide. My friends just buy whatever from IKEA. I don't even speak the same language as most of my neighbors. The community has rules about only hiring professionals.

I really miss it...

Re:I like DIY... but.. (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747835)

If you have more money than space I highly recommend Festool products for wood working. I've been using them for years and the quality is amazing. You can use their track saw for anything you can use a table saw for plus it's smaller and safer.

$$$ everywhere but no food, shelter, or transport (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747587)

I've been wondering what we'll eat, where we'll live, and what we'll drive in 20 years. Who will will be the farmers, builders, and mechanics? It seems the only people who have skills in the physical world are over 40! And the competent ones tend to be closer to 60. The 20 and below set don't seem interested in anything but pixels. The old folks deserve it though -- they've been complicit in this trend. Regulating and licensing craft work to extinction and over-caution for the young makes access to the physical world challenging while access to the "safe" virtual world is all too easy.

Re:$$$ everywhere but no food, shelter, or transpo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747683)

Have you even visited a tech hardware company? They're staffed to the brim with young men working as EEs and MEs designing all kinds of machines, including machines that build other machines.

Etsy, Inventables and Shapeoko would gainsay that (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747597)

For those not familiar w/ these sites:

www.etsy.com --- marketplace for (mostly) handmade goods
www.inventables.com --- convenient laser-cutting, CNC milling and 3D printing
www.shapeoko.com --- the least expensive, reasonably capable hobbyist mill thus far

Lots of interest in ``Neanderthal'' (mostly non-power-tool) woodworking as well.

revealing conversation with my stepfather (3, Informative)

jfruh (300774) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747599)

I had a conversation with my step-father a few months ago (he's 71) when he was talking about how when he was a teenager and young adult he used to tinker with his cars all the time, trying to squeeze a bit more performance out of it. Now, of course, he never opens his car's hood. "Do you miss it?" I asked him. "Of course not," he said. "Those cars were garbage. They lasted half as long as the new models, and the reason we were always tinkering with them is that stuff went wrong with them so often that you couldn't afford to take it to the mechanic for every little thing."

Re:revealing conversation with my stepfather (3, Interesting)

invid (163714) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747955)

Moving from cars to computers, I do miss tinkering with autoexec.bat and config.sys. In those days you knew exactly what was happening in the computer.

Lawn! Kid! Off!

The goal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747605)

The goal of an economy is cheap, plentiful goods.
If that occurs, then everyone will have more opportunity to pursue what ever hobbies they desire. Including making stuff they could otherwise purchase.

Plenty of examples contrary to this (1)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747607)

Look at the Maker community.

Also, my hobby is amateur radio. There are a lot of small cottage industry companies making things like morse code keys and HF screwdriver mobile antennas. They are doing some beautiful work.

Here are some examples:

http://www.n3znkeys.com/ [n3znkeys.com]
http://www.k8ra.com/index_007.htm [k8ra.com]
http://www.tarheelantennas.com/littletarheel_hp [tarheelantennas.com]

I'm pretty sure all of these started just building things for themselves. (I know the owner of the antenna company. So, I'm sure there).

do it all.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747611)

I can do it all! OK, not really, but a lot of it.

I have instrumentation, tooling, software, materials, information, creativity. The particular set I have is different from many of my friends, and my skills are a superset of most, but we're far from being at risk of extinction from lack of skills in this country. Things can't be completely assessed from the Home Depot aisles.

For crissakes, the Antikythera Mechanism was made before 400 BC. Go look at that if you want to be humbled by the ancients. Consider that the pyramids were made without decimal positional notation or zero.

We moderns have sufficient skills we need to navigate our present time, and the primary goal is getting from birth to death, prolonging the interval as much as possible. Anything else is just extra.

Personally, I get joy from having knowledge, and my physics smarts let me do things safely that a lot of people can't even do at all, but not everyone needs them.

Don't even ask about my spectrum analyzer or time domain reflectometer. Home Depot my a$$. Amateurs.

Same happened in all ages, with everything (4, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747653)

When technology moves on, the end users learn to use the new tools and new materials, and only experts use the expert's tools to make the tools and materials for the every day man. But the experts do that much more efficiently and at a lower price than the normal people could do before.

There was a time when you could fix your own car, but that car would be so simple that it could only do 100 km/h, had no satnav, no ABS, no fuel injection, no mp3 player, no central locking system, no electrical windows, no indicators when something was wrong. And I spend my time to do something else (like spamming on /.), instead of tinkering on my car.

Nostaligia is a rubbish argument against technological progress.

Buy your children a Raspberry Pi (1)

Read Acted (2691917) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747665)

Your children need to learn how to program a computer and what programming is. If not we will all become a nation of users. A computer is more than an iPad that you can't even change the battery in.

Re:Buy your children a Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747711)

We are a nation of users. More important to teach your children to think. Then they'll be able to program whatever comes their way.

In the end (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747669)

In the end, I feel way more comfortable knowing that I can plant a garden, roof a house, fix a car, assemble a rifle, reload my ammo, tie a hook, weld, solder, machine, and mix cement over trading stocks and coding computers. I have the skills to pass onto my children that will ensure them life's necessities. These skills are invaluable for us to survive.

lol @ "American" craftsmanship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747671)

Sure, other nationalities have no clue how to use a hammer. WAKE UP ! This kind of reporting only serves to perpetuate a misplaced sense of superiority. No good can come from it.

I blame Feminism (-1, Flamebait)

kick6 (1081615) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747685)

Feminism's now time-honored shaming of all things masculine has caused this. Men used to take pride in their ability to do manual things, and part of the reason they did so was because women found those abilities desirable. Now that women can pay a laborer with their own wages to do all those things a husband used to do, they're not skills anyone bothers to develop.

Re:I blame Feminism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747965)

Feminism has something to do with it, but for completely different reasons.

Before feminism, men were expected to be masculine and spend all of their free time doing manual things. If you were a man and had no desire to do manual things, you were bullied, ostracized, and abused until you did them and pretended to enjoy them. Feminism has taught us that masculinity isn't the ultimate ideal, that a man doesn't have to be masculine in order to accepted. Nowadays, men who have no desire to do manual things simply do other things instead with no stigma.

As a genetic male who has no inclination towards being masculine or doing masculine things, I am most thankful that I live in a society where masculinity is no longer worshipped.

I say so for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747707)

This queue is a stack! Sure :-//

cb

Human Evolution (1)

na1led (1030470) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747717)

In this technology age we live in, thing are changing very rapidly. Computer and Machine is merging with Humans, and that means we will have to take on new roles. Unfortunately there isn't enough for 7 Billion people to keep busy doing important work. I imagine large populations will be living like cattle, with nothing to do.

Back in my day ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40747737)

We walked 10 miles to school, uphill, both ways, in the snow, barefoot. People today are so soft.

The Great Depression caused DIY... (2)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747783)

Lamenting the decline of Do-it-Yourselfers (DIY) is about on-par with lamenting the decline of horse-drawn plows, and saying it is some sort of American cultural underpinning is idiotic. Do you really think folks in the "roaring '20s" were all interested in working with their hands? Hell no, they were getting suddenly rich off the stock market boom, and bootlegging, and expected it would always be that way.

DIY was basically invented during the great depression. Man-hours were nearly free, so it made all the sense in the world to spend hours fixing your existing items, rather than calling in an expert, or buying a replacement. It went as far as folks partially or almost completely building their own houses. With the 2008 recession, there's been an upswing in DIY as well, but it'll just continue to decline as things get better.

These days, going nuts with DIY is insanity. If my $20 weed-wacker breaks, it will be replaced, as it's not worth the effort to fix it. The same is true for just about all electronics these days... it's only worth fixing if you know some school kid who can solder, and whose time is basically free.

People still need some mechanical know-how, or at least have someone in the family who does... Being able to fix simple issues with your own car (battery, alternator, power window motors, etc) is still profitable and convenient, as well as issues with your home and appliances (those $10 thermocouples go out every few years). But with car manufacturers having 10-year warranties that REQUIRE all maintenance and repairs be done by professionals, anyhow, and more and more people RENTING their homes, which have their own maintenance people, there are ever-fewer places where DIY knowledge is useful, nevermind necessary.

And I say all of this as a very capable handyman, who buys and fixes-up old houses, and maintains classic old cars...

Imagine he was, instead, saying that every American should be able to replace the bad capacitors on their PC's motherboard, and tell me if you'd agree... It's a nice skill if you've got it, but not a very profitable one, and happens to be increasingly impractical as prices fall.

Devolution (1)

cvtan (752695) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747799)

My father could fix almost everything. No repairman ever came to my house when I was a child. I didn't even know there were such things as plumbers and electricians. He fixed TVs, washing machines and the family car. He built furniture, painted the house, fixed the plumbing and even cut our hair! He could run a lathe as easily as he could work an oscilloscope. Of course, having all these skills meant he never made much money. He insisted that we get educated so we wouldn't end up doing manual labor. So my brothers and I ended up with some skills and enough education to avoid digging ditches. Our children and grandchildren? Forget it! Some of them would have trouble changing a light bulb, but they have cell phones so they are "tech savvy". They have lost the ability to use tools and also lost the ability to earn enough money to pay for professional repairmen. Devo was right!

Article is undiluted horseflop (4, Interesting)

Hillgiant (916436) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747801)

I own a house that was originally constructed in 1942. I purchased it from the estate of the original owner in 2004. Every single thing I have tried to do in the house has been thwarted by the previous owner's amateur attempts at home improvement. Electrical (four electrical boxes, knob & tube wiring under the attic insulation), carpentry (crooked doors, cheep 70's aluminum frame windows, bathroom floor supported by rusty screws and good intentions), plumbing (copper tubing to the attic furnace, automotive radiator hose for the u-bend on the tub drain). Every single thing has taken twice as long and cost almost twice as much as needed due to poor craftsmanship, kludges, and stubborn refusal to follow code or even basic principles of home construction.

Seriously. I wish he had just hired a professional.

Economic Specialization (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747845)

This is progress. An individual human only has so much time to learn and gain experience. You can't be an expert in everything these days. Back when you lived off the land everyone pretty much knew how to hunt, gather, farm, build a shelter, fire, ect. You spent so much time doing all these things you didn't have much time to improve.

Economic specialization allows for people to become experts in what they do if other people value it. As a mechanical engineer I could design my own screws and threads for each application but I instead buy a standard drill, tap, and screws. Someone else has spent their lives figuring out how to make these things cheap and readily available so I can get on with my job.

It'll come back, don't worry, soon enough (1, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747855)

All it will take is the rest of the world to stop giving you charity, all this debt, that you are able to accumulate right now, you can't repay it.

So here is the path you are on: eventually the charity stops and you can't buy things that other people make with dollars anymore, you have to start producing something again. USA will be a net energy and raw material and food exporter at that point, but exporting raw materials, energy and food doesn't take 300,000,000 people, it takes a fraction, maybe under 10% of all people, maybe under 5%.

So there will be a huge number of people looking to do something on their own, but they won't be able to buy new stuff. Instead USA will also be selling its used to stuff to other people, who can afford it at that point, so USA will become a huge garage sale.

However this also means that there will be some revitalisation of "Toolbox" skills, you won't throw out that pair of shoes or pants, you'll fix it or you'll ask somebody to fix it. You won't throw away that TV, you'll be looking for ways to fix it, etc.etc.

It'll come back, of-course the standard of living will be much lower, but what are you going to do?

When I first saw Germany a few years back, I was struck at how poor the people are, much poorer than in USA and Canada it seemed. Well the reason for it is that they never actually lived on credit, instead they were the ones producing, and since the Euro steals their purchasing power, they were producing and then selling to all those who DID BORROW, like Greece, Spain, Italy, France, etc.

So borrowing and buying other people's productivity IS GREAT! It gives you a huge advantage, incredible quality of life, plenty of leisure and products that you didn't work for.

But the problem is, once the Germans stop subsidising the Europe (they'll stop eventually), once China and Japan stop subsidising USA.... what are the debtors going to do?

No real money, no productivity. What to do? They'll find ways to export what they can - give back their consumer goods at garage sales, to the people who produce and who will have higher purchasing power once their gov't stops stealing it from them, sell their raw materials and energy and food they produce.

Become tourist destinations that are only affordable to the productive, while the rest the people in the country can't afford to stay in those hotels, resorts, etc.

The toolbox will be rebuilt, it's not a great thing by the way, it means there will be no choice.

obligatory auote: (1)

nargileh (1113371) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747867)

"And there shall in that time be rumours of things going astray, and there will be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia work base, that has an attachmentâ¦at this time, a friend shall lose his friendsâ(TM)s hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before around eight oâ(TM)clock... "

Time for a George Carlin Quote (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747871)

I don't have hobbies; hobbies cost money. Interests are quite free. - George Carlin.

I truely beleive the person who has the equipment either has a job in that field so they have the equipment for the job. The homemoaner (yes moaner) doesnt' have the tools so things that are premade make it more affordable. You know how much space all that equipment would take to really be fully equiped so you can do what ever job you need to have done? And the cost. I have a brother in law who went to school to be a mechanic. He had to buy all his tools and when he graduated he had most of what was needed to be a mechanic. It cost him over three grand.

Although I'm a comptuer programmer and have many more thousands in equipment for software and comptuer hardware which is my job and hobbie. My house is an interest of mine that only need things fixed everyonce in a while and when I want to "upgrade" I'll pay someone who has all the equipment already or if it's something small that will not kill me or my family I'll figure out how to do it myself and only buy the lowest and cheapest tools since I will only need them once or twice.

Consequence of Specialization (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#40747909)

Specialization benefits all of us.

Adam Smith explained it in Wealth of Nations.
The making of pins is (was) about 18 steps.
In a factory, 10 specialized employees can perform these 18 steps to make 48000 pins/day or 4800 pins/day/man, far in excess of the perhaps 200 pins/day possible to a single employee performing all stages.

Yes, this means necessarily that the 'straightener' eventually forgets how to do the other tasks, and yes, if the whole system collapses, the straightener is going to have to either learn how to do the other 17 steps or die for want of pins.
But in fact the utility gained over his lifetime of specialization is CLEARLY in excess of the marginal chance that the whole system collapses, and the extra work/risk at that point.

We benefit so broadly, generally, and regularly from specialization, that the individual cost/risk of NOT having those skills is infinitesimal.

While I agree with the OP and bemoan the loss of basic skills, I suspect that part of this comes from my youth during the Cold War - we always 'kept in mind' the consequence of trying not to be totally reliant on our civilization, as sometimes we might not be able to rely on it. Partly, I've learned to let this go. For years, I resisted a kindle, mainly because I didn't want to own books that would vanish when the battery died. Then it occurred to me - if I'm somehow UNABLE to get electricity for the month or more it would take my kindle to die...I'm so severely fucked, I don't really care about losing some novels. (Even writing that feels like some sort of confession...).

Personally, I LIKE knowing how to "do things". But I recognize that without practice, I truly suck in practical terms. Having the knowledge generally is the best I can 'afford' time- or resource-wise.

This doesn't mean that we should accept COMPLETELY losing our skills, but honestly, I can't get terribly worked up that I don't know how to perform some basic construction skills. If we're so screwed that I can't either a) buy a prefab, or b) find someone that can, well, we're in a rough situation and I'm not going to be TOO concerned about that windowframe, not so concerned I won't just board it over.

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