1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby brenok » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:02 pm UTC

Daneel wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Davidy wrote:The Main thrust of what I was getting at is the decline in grammar and spelling that is common in many communications today.
Oh, would you like a list of quotes about how the grammar and general language use of the youth of "today" has been declining ever since anyone first wrote anything about language? Because those quotes are not hard to come by, either. Young people and the lower classes and inferior races have been diluting "proper" speech for millennia, and yet we still manage to get by somehow, usually going whole sentences at a time without resorting to animalistic grunts and crude gestures.


I'd say young people, lower classes, and the like succeeded pretty well in corrupting the language and forgetting all sorts of important spelling and grammar rules. Does this post look anything like correct Latin to you? It might as well be written in a foreign language!

And after you trace all the Romance languages back to Latin, you can start looking for where Latin came from...


Call me a degenerated whippersnapper, but I have difficulty in finding the point that you're trying to make.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:07 pm UTC

Comparing internet posts of any kind to published work is just silly anyway. If somehow the majority of US and European people in 1900 were able to broadcast messages whenever they felt like it, those messages would be just as full of spelling and grammar problems as you see today, and I am absolutely sure it wouldn't take very long for a shorthand similar to that used today to develop. Comparing these quick internet quips to works published in newspapers, journals and books is just silly. Published works are reviewed, carefully selected, and edited to death before they make it to print. You'd have to compare works published by comparable publishing agencies, with comparable target audiences, to get any sort of meaningful analysis of language decay.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:29 pm UTC

Daneel wrote:Does this post look anything like correct Latin to you?
English is not descended from Latin.

Whizbang wrote:Comparing internet posts of any kind to published work is just silly anyway. If somehow the majority of US and European people in 1900 were able to broadcast messages whenever they felt like it, those messages would be just as full of spelling and grammar problems as you see today, and I am absolutely sure it wouldn't take very long for a shorthand similar to that used today to develop. Comparing these quick internet quips to works published in newspapers, journals and books is just silly. Published works are reviewed, carefully selected, and edited to death before they make it to print. You'd have to compare works published by comparable publishing agencies, with comparable target audiences, to get any sort of meaningful analysis of language decay.
Yeah, the "problem" is not so much that people care less about grammar now than ever before, but that the communication they do in settings where formal grammar isn't important is more often "permanent" now than ever before. Tweets and texts don't adhere to academic grammar standards because they are conversational, and conversation (even among a likely majority of grammarians) has never bothered completely adhering to academic grammar standards.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:30 pm UTC

A trend I'm noticing in some things people are pointing out in comments here: it used to be that a greater fraction of X was of higher quality, but X was limited only to a small fraction of the population, while now a much greater fraction of the population has some degree of X, but only a small fraction of X is of high quality, where X is quality or length or depth of written or verbal communication or leisure time or whatever.

In effect, we've grown a long tail, whereas before there was a precipitous drop-off. The same fraction of the population have the same higher quality of whatever X we're considering, but the rest of the teeming masses, instead of having none at all, now all enjoy at least a crappy low-quality version of what was once reserved for only a few people.

I have my doubts as to how well this applies to all X: I'd wager that most farming families in agrarian societies probably spent more "quality time" with each other than most contemporary families in our information society do, while most people in today's information society communicate internationally far more frequently than most people in agrarian societies did. But for some things, like quality of writing and serious leisure time, we have "raised the plains" without "lowering the eminences" (to borrow a metaphor from J.S. Mill if I recall correctly): the intellectual elite still write longer and better material than the hoi polloi, the economic elite still enjoy a slower and more leisurely life than the toiling masses, etc, but now at least the majority can write something and get some form of leisure, picking up skills and benefits previously reserved entirely for the upper classes.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby orthogon » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:34 pm UTC

pitareio wrote:
orthogon wrote:The problem as I see it is that transport hasn't kept pace with the exponential change in everything else - affordable transport is at best a few percent faster than it was in 1900 .


Are you kidding ?

Air transport wasn't affordable in 1900 - it was non-existent. Today, international flights carry one billion passengers per year.

In 1900, there were a few thousands cars worldwide. Today, developed countries almost have more cars than inhabitants.

Trains did exist, but they were much more than just a few percent slower, and I won't even mention comfort. And they probably weren't much more affordable than planes are today.

Ship transport wasn't cheap either, and intercontinental travels were taking many days on liners.

Fair points. I originally wrote "1950" and maybe should have gone for 1970 and confined myself to urban and suburban journeys. Even then I might be wrong. I just spent a few pleasurable hours in a pub with some old friends, where amongst other things we discussed whether we could ever have the same experience via virtual reality. The general feeling was "no".
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby rcox1 » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:32 pm UTC

kureta wrote:I do not think that "people become less moral or less polite" but I do think that life hes been getting faster and faster especially after the industrial revolution.

I would say that post war life did get much faster, and the baby boomers, 'The Happy Days Gang" was in fact less moral than previous and subsequent generations. They were, of course, the generation that engineered cigarettes to be more addictive, then created a broad fraud to profit off it. The evil perpetrated by these people, the marketing of junk food to children, the engineering of addictive food, had not been matched in sheer arrogance since a generation destroyed the US economy in the 30's, also the children of a war generation. The 60's basically ruined recreational drug use for everyone.

This was, of course, the generation of Regan and drugs and guns.

I see the kids doing a lot to make the world better. Google is at lest trying to do good. More new food companies are understanding that selling diabetes to children is not cool. For instance, Chipotle, though far from ideal, is a far cry from McDonald's.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby INTP » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:47 pm UTC

I think some people are missing the point.

It isn't an accident that the first and last quote form a ring.

The irony is that the people of the time they were referring to made the exact same complaint about letters, and both blamed it on the same thing.

And now look, nearly 100 years later and people are saying the same exact thing and blaming it on the same exact reason.

"Emails require too little effort, people just don't put the same thought into them as when dial-up time cost money, or when you had to write them on paper."

The point is that the golden days people are referring to don't exist. People have a youth bias, and don't understand that between 13-24 your brain is not fully developed yet, of course you experience things differently.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:24 am UTC

Sappharos wrote:To be fair, none of us were there so we cannot provide fully informed comments. However I will state what I think is likely.

In the time period covered in the panels, there was a general attitude toward work that people were to be treated as machines. Time spent doing an activity was supposed to make a person better at it. Thus, for maximum efficiency, they should be doing it all the time. This gave no consideration to their mental state - this itself was a problem for the individual to resolve. The panels themselves refer to families who would collectively scour their magazines, too absorbed to talk over a dinner table. For these reasons I would argue that originally these problems were much worse than we imagine.


This same attitude continues even today in the world of employment. Whoever works fastest produces the most, and therefore is regarded as the most profitable. If you are an employee, then this results in a push by your employer to work as fast as is achievable. If you are an employer or working independently, you will find that you will be out-competed for clients by other people who are able to lower their prices and offer faster delivery of goods/services due to working faster. Thus, as long as we as customers choose to buy our goods and services with greater emphasis on cheapness and speed than on the quality of product or quality of life of the producers, then producers are eternally pressured to work ever-faster--this is the basis of the "Walmart effect", where the faster and cheaper businesses drive out the bulk of competitors.

What we ultimately need in society is a shift away from the purely materialistic attitude (both in Capitalism AND in Communism) that "you are worth the amount of revenue that you can generate, minus what you consume, and no more". We currently calculate everything in terms of money (or some proxy for money, such as the volume of production of goods and services). In essence, we regard anything that has no effect on the economic bottom line as being essentially worthless--why should the boss care if you are miserable as long as you keep on bringing the company the same amount of monetary profit as if you were happier? If it's not worth money, then it's not worth anything at all, so sayeth materialism.

This is, of course, not an advocation of moving to the opposite extreme of a pure-intangibles society where one could say "who cares if I produce less than I consume as long as I am properly righteous in everything else". Total disregard for material well-being is what leads to such pathological attitudes as justifying torture or killing on the basis that it will save the soul of the person being killed, or telling one's workers that the morality of working hard without asking for reward is more important than having food, shelter, and medicine.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby The Cat » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:31 am UTC

I read this in the voice of Andy Rooney.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7zdGQbN7Ac

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:53 am UTC

ijuin wrote:We currently calculate everything in terms of money (or some proxy for money, such as the volume of production of goods and services). In essence, we regard anything that has no effect on the economic bottom line as being essentially worthless--why should the boss care if you are miserable as long as you keep on bringing the company the same amount of monetary profit as if you were happier? If it's not worth money, then it's not worth anything at all, so sayeth materialism.

All else aside, this is because the very function of money is to act as a token of value. A dollar is just an arbitrary unit of value with which to measure how much something is worth to someone. The things people measure the value of in dollars don't have to be material things. Some people will, when they can afford it, accept jobs that pay less than other jobs they could get, but are more fulfilling in other ways, sacrificing money they could have for immaterial things. More directly, people pay money for services that provide immaterial benefits like convenience and comfort and fun and entertainment and aren't objects of material value themselves. (A decent cook can make a meal just as good as a cook at a major restaurant, but may pay someone else to cook his food anyway because of the convenience, comfort, etc... that the restaurant atmosphere provides).

In short, money isn't just a measure of things of material value, and not only materialism measures value in terms of money. The problem you are writing about in the rest of your post is not a problem with measuring value in terms of money; it's a problem of the market (i.e. the people) undervaluing things you think it should value more, or perhaps of outside forces artificially depressing the price of those things below what the market actually values them.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:15 am UTC

Well, there is still a widespread perception that something which is not sold (or able to be sold) should be assigned a price/value of zero, if not in our psychology, then certainly in the way that we report our productivity to each other. To use the cooking example, a meal that you buy gets counted as a transaction, while a meal that you prepare yourself does not. To illustrate the absurdity of basing our concept of productivity on the amount of trade rather than on the amount/quality of product, let us consider two farmers: Bob and Dan. Bob grows only corn, and Dan grows only potatoes. If Bob eats only his own corn and Dan eats only his own potatoes, then no trading is going on, and most contemporary economic measurements (e.g. GDP, tax returns, revenue statements, etc.) would ignore their production. However, if Dan and Bob traded their products with each other, so that Dan now eats some potatoes and Bob eats some corn, then the very act of trading has made their activity more important in the eyes of modern economic reckoning.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby johnms » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:23 am UTC

For a book-length real-life version of this comic, I recommend Ars Recte Vivendi, by George William Curtis, written in 1897. It's free on archive.org. You'll have to google it, because when I try and include the link my post is flagged as spam. (Note to editor: Really? Links to free books on archive.org are spam?!?)

It's basically the endless rumination about how things were different back in the day. He goes on about young people spending too much money on college, too much attention being paid to the Harvard-Yale boat race, theatre manners, the outrages of modern women's dress, tobacco, dueling, the sad decline in newspaper ethics, and on and on. It seems that the common thread of mankind consists of old people bitching about young people.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:38 am UTC

IMO, young people rebel against the authority of older people and reject their parents' values and popular culture because in a hierarchical society, the only way to get any independence from those over you is to reject their control. This goes double in a society like ours in which one is not considered (socially) an adult until reaching the point of full independence from one's parents. Thus, to obey one's elders is to be a child, and to disregard one's elders is to be an adult.

A big driver of this is the general idea that if A is obedient to the authority of B, then A is somehow lesser than B. Thus, if A ever wants to live for anything other than the pleasure/approval of B, then A must have independence.

To flip this over for a moment, in societies where deference to elders is absolute (even to the point where a son who has a higher nominal rank than his father is still expected to be subordinate to the father), then there will be a tendency towards total gerontocracy, whereby only the oldest generation gets the top positions and everybody is waiting for their fathers to die so that they can inherit.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:58 am UTC

@ijuin, I agree that there is the problem of people valuing, to put it succinctly, the market value to the exclusion of the use value. I'd argue that something like this is fundamentally what underlies bubbles and is thus a form of market distortion: people lose sight of how much something is really worth to them, and focus instead on what other people think other people think [ad nauseum] it's worth, and suddenly the price of something exceeds its value, causing some people to sacrifice something of greater value for the thing which is artificially overvalued by speculators. In fact, that might even be a plausible explanation for what the meat of your post was really about: people are sacrificing things of great value to themselves to get something which they think will fetch a high price (and allow them to buy back more than they sacrificed later), but which nobody in the end really values in itself as much as the things they're all sacrificing to get it. I'm not sure I agree that's really the underlying phenomenon (I can think of other possible explanations too), but it seems plausible enough.

Also, I realize that I made an error in my earlier post. The price of a relaxed slow-paced life, if artificially distorted, is not underpriced, it's overpriced; it's the value of labor, if anything, that is underpriced. Everyone would like a relaxing life, but most people can't afford it, because what they would have to give up to obtain it is worth too much. This could be because of the above mechanism (the value of everything else vs leisure is artificially inflated by everyone thinking they're going to get rich enough to buy all that leisure and more if they trade it for a paycheck), or numerous others (the price of labor could be artificially suppressed; the price of other things could be artificially inflated by other means, including artificially restricting supply through means like collusion and monopolization, or artificially inducing demand for them through means like marketing and advertisement; or in principle, I suppose, the true market price of everything might genuinely be high, the value of time comparatively low, and so people really do need to work their asses off constantly in order to produce the resources that they need, but that seems a little far fetched when looking at the overall resources and workload and how they are distributed).
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:00 am UTC

Pretty much--those things which inherently can not be sold (because they are non-transferable in nature) are often discounted by other people, since we tend to view each other in terms of "what can you do for me?" Thus, if I am not emotionally invested in your welfare, I will care less about your satisfaction than about your production. When the vast majority of us are acting similarly, it leads to a society in which the quality of our own experiences are subordinated to the quality and quantity of service/production we can provide to others (and whatever rewards, e.g. money that we get in return for providing it).

As far as the value of time being low, unskilled labor especially has a tendency to be driven down to the minimum survival level, because as long as there are any starving people around willing to work for food, an employer will tend to choose to hire them rather than paying more than the cost of food to existing employees (the quality and quantity of labor being assumed to be otherwise equal in this example). The price of labor is completely detached from the value that the labor can generate for the employer, except that the latter must exceed the former for employment to remain viable. The price instead is determined almost solely by the availability or lack thereof of an equal or better replacement for the laborer, with the productivity of the labor itself being almost irrelevant. Thus, the only viable way to keep unskilled wages above this minimum survival level is by ensuring that unemployment remains as low as is practicable.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby The Chosen One » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:27 am UTC

This was a relatively long comic, so I zoned out halfway through and skipped to the end. Then I realized what I did.
He could have at least put some funny pictures in it.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:18 am UTC

ijuin wrote:Pretty much--those things which inherently can not be sold (because they are non-transferable in nature) are often discounted by other people, since we tend to view each other in terms of "what can you do for me?" Thus, if I am not emotionally invested in your welfare, I will care less about your satisfaction than about your production. When the vast majority of us are acting similarly, it leads to a society in which the quality of our own experiences are subordinated to the quality and quantity of service/production we can provide to others (and whatever rewards, e.g. money that we get in return for providing it).

Well, that's not quite what I was saying. What I'm saying is, I value my own leisure time, so why don't I trade some money (that I could be making by working) for more leisure time? Because the cost of doing that would be the housing, food, etc, I buy with the money I get in exchange for my leisure time. That cost is too high, because my labor is priced too low; if I could get more money in exchange for my time, then I could afford keep more of my time without sacrificing food, housing, etc. Everyone else (well, the whole working class) is operating under the same circumstances too, so we all sacrifice our leisure time for other things.

So the root of the problem is that other things are priced too high relative to our time, which just means that the demand/supply ratio is too high. This could be because we are overvaluing (and thus demanding more) things which really aren't as valuable as our leisure time (in which case the problem could be solved if we all stopped trying to "keep up with the Joneses" and lived voluntarily simple lives, which if we're really overvaluing things other than leisure would make us all happier). Or it could be because things which we appropriately value more than our leisure (things we would be genuinely less happy without if we sacrificed them for leisure) are in limited supply, whether because they're artificially restricted or because they're genuinely scarce. Or it could be because our time is priced too low, again either from low demand or high supply, genuine or artificially induced.

Or most likely a combination of many of these factors: demand is artificially manufactured for things that don't really bring people the same happiness they lose in working to buy them, necessities really are scarce and sometimes kept artificially so (often by creating artificial demand via speculative bubbles which gobbles up all the supply as people hope to get rich off the bubble), worse still things that demand is artificially manufactured for are kept artificially scarce (I'm looking at mass-marketed popular media and its copyright police here), and labor is both overabundant (because there are so many desperate people willing to undersell themselves for table scraps) and underdemanded (because there are so few well-to-do people who can afford to hire all the less-well-to-do).

As far as the value of time being low, unskilled labor especially has a tendency to be driven down to the minimum survival level, because as long as there are any starving people around willing to work for food, an employer will tend to choose to hire them rather than paying more than the cost of food to existing employees (the quality and quantity of labor being assumed to be otherwise equal in this example). The price of labor is completely detached from the value that the labor can generate for the employer, except that the latter must exceed the former for employment to remain viable. The price instead is determined almost solely by the availability or lack thereof of an equal or better replacement for the laborer, with the productivity of the labor itself being almost irrelevant. Thus, the only viable way to keep unskilled wages above this minimum survival level is by ensuring that unemployment remains as low as is practicable.

I agree with most of this, though I think that ensuring full employment is at best a stop-gap measure. What we really need for a permanent solution is to have fewer people stuck in a position where they need other people's capital just to get by and so have to be employed by other people to get the money they need to rent the use of that capital. "Too much capitalism", as Chesterton wrote, "does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists." We need to get everyone to the point where they are their own homeowners and their own small business owners and all work for each other as equals trading services, rather than a mass of effectively propertyless laborers working one lord's field (so to speak) for the money to pay rent to another lord for a place to live, in an unending cycle that only moves money between the nobility without ever letting the peasantry rise up to own their own places to live and work.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:55 am UTC

Well, by full-employment I mainly meant that we need to ensure that there aren't a lot of people who are so desperate for any living at all that they will grossly undercut everyone already working in the kind of job that they are applying for. In other words, we need to greatly reduce the size of what Marx called "the reserve army of the unemployed"--i.e. the threat of having no loaf at all being used to push workers into accepting half a loaf even when employers would remain profitable while offering a full loaf.

On the value of leisure thing, the fundamental problem as I see it is that for any but the most selfless of people, a stranger's leisure time is much less valuable than their own.--there is no uniformity or interchangeability as there is for commodities or products. I might labor to increase your leisure time in exchange for payment, but in the end I care more for the payment than for your leisure, unless you happen to be somebody in whom I am emotionally invested such as a friend or relative. In short, when push comes to shove, we care little for the benefit of others, except insofar as benefit comes to us from doing so.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Kit. » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:52 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:All else aside, this is because the very function of money is to act as a token of value. A dollar is just an arbitrary unit of value with which to measure how much something is worth to someone.

Only for the values that can be reliably exchanged for a credit.

(tl;dr @ the rest)

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Klear » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:14 am UTC

The Chosen One wrote:This was a relatively long comic, so I zoned out halfway through and skipped to the end. Then I realized what I did.
He could have at least put some funny pictures in it.


Hey! You're right! I think that was the point of the comic, though it failed with me, as I read all of it. The bolded phrases only make it more likely you won't read everything, thus proving the opinions in the text right.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:02 am UTC

One of the things being criticized in the "people don't read and write as carefully any more" argument is the ongoing exchange of depth in a subject for breadth--instead of exploring every detail of a few books (or subjects), we instead take in only a smaller amount from a far larger number. While there is much to be said for the experience and knowledge gained from taking in the full details of some subjects, the sheer multiplicity of subjects now available and the nature of living in today's world make it extremely disadvantageous to be totally ignorant in any of the major areas, no matter how expert we are in the ones that we do know. Being totally ignorant about the workings of electricity can easily lead to electrocuting oneself or starting a fire. Being totally ignorant about the workings of an automobile can lead to ignoring the warnings of a mechanical failure and getting into a crash. The list goes on and on, and thus we must necessarily spread ourselves out more and more as the number of things demanding our attention increase, for we dare not ignore any of them for too long.

One thing that I will say is bothersome however, is that the ability to receive instant replies has given birth to irritation at any time that such replies do not materialize instantly. The fact that you can call your friend at any time and place leads to becoming annoyed that said friend refuses to answer the phone whenever you call. Why, exactly, should we be obliged to respond to every message the moment we receive it? What happens if I am deeply embedded in a much higher-priority task when you call me, such as driving my car or working with dangerous equipment, where any distraction could have dire consequences? Must I always be ready to drop everything in favor of responding to every message that arrives, lest I incur the wrath of the sender for delaying?

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby kirslaw » Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:09 am UTC

Most people have nothing to say. But they still feel the need to say it. So they do. It has peobably always been like that. Giving them only 40 electronic words might actually be an improvement for both reader and environment over longwinded inane paper letters of earlier times.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Solarn » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:30 pm UTC

keithl wrote:More recent ancestors got on dangerous little boats to cross the Atlantic and get away from those parasitic bastards, coming here to America to work their asses off dawn to dusk and KEEP most of what they gathered.

That's not how it went, actually. Your ancestors were religious fanatics who got on dangerous little boats to cross the Atlantic because the parasitic bastards didn't let them oppress non-Protestants.

Whizbang wrote:You know what the time was called when nothing advanced and man was forced to play the same role his father played? The Dark Ages.

Life strives for advancement and improvement. Resist this at your peril.

Should I enumerate the ways in which this post is wrong or should I assume that you were being sarcastic?

gmalivuk wrote:Centuries ago, only a few percent of the most educated people learned to read or write at all

That hasn't changed since, only now the rest can pretend. Also the makeup of that "few percent" has changed somewhat.

rcox1 wrote:
kureta wrote:I do not think that "people become less moral or less polite" but I do think that life hes been getting faster and faster especially after the industrial revolution.

I would say that post war life did get much faster, and the baby boomers, 'The Happy Days Gang" was in fact less moral than previous and subsequent generations. They were, of course, the generation that engineered cigarettes to be more addictive, then created a broad fraud to profit off it. The evil perpetrated by these people, the marketing of junk food to children, the engineering of addictive food, had not been matched in sheer arrogance since a generation destroyed the US economy in the 30's, also the children of a war generation. The 60's basically ruined recreational drug use for everyone.

This was, of course, the generation of Regan and drugs and guns.

I see the kids doing a lot to make the world better. Google is at lest trying to do good. More new food companies are understanding that selling diabetes to children is not cool. For instance, Chipotle, though far from ideal, is a far cry from McDonald's.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, the sheer idiocy of this post.

INTP wrote:between 13-24 your brain is not fully developed yet

Quotes please, this sounds like bullshit to me. Why 24? Why 13? What happens before 13?

ijuin wrote:To illustrate the absurdity of basing our concept of productivity on the amount of trade rather than on the amount/quality of product, let us consider two farmers: Bob and Dan. Bob grows only corn, and Dan grows only potatoes. If Bob eats only his own corn and Dan eats only his own potatoes, then no trading is going on, and most contemporary economic measurements (e.g. GDP, tax returns, revenue statements, etc.) would ignore their production. However, if Dan and Bob traded their products with each other, so that Dan now eats some potatoes and Bob eats some corn, then the very act of trading has made their activity more important in the eyes of modern economic reckoning.

Well yeah, because in the real world there aren't just two people and some of them don't grow anything at all and if Bob and Dan only ate what they grew and didn't trade, those people would starve.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Whizbang » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:35 pm UTC

kirslaw wrote:Most people have nothing to say. But they still feel the need to say it. So they do. It has peobably always been like that. Giving them only 40 electronic words might actually be an improvement for both reader and environment over longwinded inane paper letters of earlier times.


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wrote:One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby orthogon » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:41 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:One thing that I will say is bothersome however, is that the ability to receive instant replies has given birth to irritation at any time that such replies do not materialize instantly. The fact that you can call your friend at any time and place leads to becoming annoyed that said friend refuses to answer the phone whenever you call. Why, exactly, should we be obliged to respond to every message the moment we receive it? What happens if I am deeply embedded in a much higher-priority task when you call me, such as driving my car or working with dangerous equipment, where any distraction could have dire consequences? Must I always be ready to drop everything in favor of responding to every message that arrives, lest I incur the wrath of the sender for delaying?


Maybe it's because if someone doesn't respond within a few minutes, there's a good chance that they won't respond at all. The e-mail / text / missed call just gets buried under all the new stuff that comes in. There must be some statistics on that somewhere.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby ctdonath » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:09 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Maybe before we rush to advance we should stop to consider the consequences of blithely giving it such a central position in our lives.

There comes a point in one's life (around age 40) where one discovers the importance of maintenance over advancement. Advance as much as you like, there are still a lot of mundane things which must be maintained on a daily basis, indeed which tend to take up much of every day. A lot of what makes maintenance difficult at this point is the sheer mass/momentum of stuff accumulated by decades of "advancement", which in turn makes further advancement difficult because you're maintaining what advanced earlier and you now wish you hadn't.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Whizbang » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:31 pm UTC

ctdonath wrote:
Klear wrote:Maybe before we rush to advance we should stop to consider the consequences of blithely giving it such a central position in our lives.

There comes a point in one's life (around age 40) where one discovers the importance of maintenance over advancement. Advance as much as you like, there are still a lot of mundane things which must be maintained on a daily basis, indeed which tend to take up much of every day. A lot of what makes maintenance difficult at this point is the sheer mass/momentum of stuff accumulated by decades of "advancement", which in turn makes further advancement difficult because you're maintaining what advanced earlier and you now wish you hadn't.


That is just a definition of advancement. Cleaning up your environment? Advancement. Ensuring more of your species has decent food, shelter, water, medicine, communication, etc.? Advancement.

Just as not everything labeled "Advancement" might actually be advancement. Compromising the health and well being of a large number of workers so that they can produce more widgets? Not necessarily advancement, unless the widget is something that will then benefit the workers in some way that makes up for the compromised health and wellbeing. Dumping toxic waste in lakes and streams because it takes too much effort to dispose of it properly? Not advancement.

Advancement, as I define it, means an overall improvement. The problem here is that some advancement comes from psuedo-advancement. Take modern medicine. For a while, some real shady stuff happened in the name of medical advancement and research. Yet somehow medical science was born out of the mirky methods and quakery. Sometimes we don't see the advancement for a few generations when we've had time to perfect a craft or widget. Sometimes we make lemonade from lemons.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:45 pm UTC

That hasn't changed since, only now the rest can pretend. Also the makeup of that "few percent" has changed somewhat.
You yourself are not among the few percent most educated in this country, I'm almost certain.

Are you just pretending? (Actually, that's a silly question. The rest of your post suggests strongly that the answer is yes.)
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Klear » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:11 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
That hasn't changed since, only now the rest can pretend. Also the makeup of that "few percent" has changed somewhat.
You yourself are not among the few percent most educated in this country, I'm almost certain.

Are you just pretending? (Actually, that's a silly question. The rest of your post suggests strongly that the answer is yes.)


But he might well be among the few percent of the most educated in the world. It's not that hard. Literacy and basic math is over 50 % worldwide, though.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Jonathan589 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:01 pm UTC

I was saying to the wife only the other day that our modern family gathering, silent around the TV, each individual with his head buried in his favourite netbook or eepad, is a somewhat natural outcome of the banishment of colloquy from the school. My wife used words to me that we wouldn't have said in my day.

Anyway, my pace of life has not speeded up. I'm living at the same speed of about 24 hours per day as most of my ancestors even if my average travelling speed is ca 2mph to cover about 15000 miles a year. I've probably the same number of friends and acquaintances as people before me, and we communicate through the interwebs but it isn't speeding me up or sending me to a nervous breakdown.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Klear » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:15 pm UTC

Jonathan589 wrote:Anyway, my pace of life has not speeded up. I'm living at the same speed of about 24 hours per day as most of my ancestors even if my average (...)


Good for you. I'm estimating an average subjective speed of 18 hours a day (compared to what it used to feel like) and at least two weeks per month. A calendar year lasts about 8-10 months for me. At least seconds are staying the same, though some hours are getting significantly shorter. Oddly, minutes tend to last almost twice as long as they should. I guess I shouldn't complain though. The 3-hours-long hours of my childhood were unbearable.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby neremanth » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:20 pm UTC

INTP wrote:I think some people are missing the point.

It isn't an accident that the first and last quote form a ring.

The irony is that the people of the time they were referring to made the exact same complaint about letters, and both blamed it on the same thing.

And now look, nearly 100 years later and people are saying the same exact thing and blaming it on the same exact reason.

"Emails require too little effort, people just don't put the same thought into them as when dial-up time cost money, or when you had to write them on paper."

The point is that the golden days people are referring to don't exist. People have a youth bias, and don't understand that between 13-24 your brain is not fully developed yet, of course you experience things differently.


I think you're probably right that the first and last quote were intended to demonstrate that the people who were claiming in 1915 that in the past people would take the time to write long letters (and complaining that that was no longer the case) were wrong because if you go back to 1871 people actually weren't writing long letters even then (or not long enough to satisfy the people who were complaining that people took the time to write longer letters even further back in the past). However it's a shame that the quotes Randall managed to find don't quite work to make this point. The 1915 quote is referring to 100 years previously, i.e. 1815, so the evidence provided by the 1871 quote is irrelevant to the 1915 claim that people used to write longer letters (even before you get into the whole size-is-relative thing and consider that people complaining about the brevity of letters at both times doesn't mean the letters aren't shorter at the later timepoint). I don't actually know when the 1871 quote is referring to as the time when letters cost nine pence (a brief perusal of Wikipedia didn't turn up the information), so for all I know that could even have been 1815 as well, in which case you would have two quotes from 44 years apart complaining that people used to write long letters in 1815 but contemporaneously only dash off a few quick lines, which rather removes the irony presumably intended by placing them first and last.

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby eran_rathan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:20 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
Jonathan589 wrote:Anyway, my pace of life has not speeded up. I'm living at the same speed of about 24 hours per day as most of my ancestors even if my average (...)


Good for you. I'm estimating an average subjective speed of 18 hours a day (compared to what it used to feel like) and at least two weeks per month. A calendar year lasts about 8-10 months for me. At least seconds are staying the same, though some hours are getting significantly shorter. Oddly, minutes tend to last almost twice as long as they should. I guess I shouldn't complain though. The 3-hours-long hours of my childhood were unbearable.


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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Chipmunk216 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:45 pm UTC

This comic got attention over at the website for the American Conservative.
Alan Jacobs:

"Those silly ancestors of ours worried about things — they worried and worried, so pointlessly. That’s what today’s xkcd comic is about. I love xkcd more than I ought to, I suppose, but I found this one annoying — deeply annoying. Because all Randall Munroe thinks he needs to do is to show what our ancestors were concerned about, and that will be sufficient to prove that their concerns were needless, and further proves that any similar concerns today are equally without substance.

Of course, Munroe doesn’t say any of these things explicitly, but he doesn’t have to: most of his readers get the point. For instance, one person I follow on Twitter commented, “Why I think virtually all technology alarmism is ridiculous,” and linked to the xkcd comic.

But here’s the thing: how do we know those people were wrong, those people who between 1871 and 1915 wrote about the increasing speed of life and a consequent impatience with writing? After all, that was a period of significant social change, accelerating industrialization, the rapid spread of the telegraph, the invention of the telephone and the radio. Why do we just assume that their concerns were senseless?

Similarly, it often seems that every cultural critic at some point in his or her career feels obliged to quote the passage from Plato’s Phaedrus in which King Thamus rejects writing because he thinks it will ruin memory — and to quote it as an example of arrant Luddism. But wait: writing did ruin memory, at least in the sense that it enabled people to offload the work of memorizing to text. Of course, most of us think that that was a darn good trade-off, in precisely the same way that we think it’s good to have phones that remember phone numbers so we don’t have to. But it would be ridiculous to say that no trade has been made, as everyone realizes who is asked for a close friend or relative’s phone number only to realize that he doesn’t know it without reading it off his phone.

Moreover, even if people were wrong to fear certain technologies in the past, that says absolutely nothing about whether people who fear certain other technologies today are right or wrong. It’s an irrelevant datum.

Again: I love xkcd, but today’s comic is just giving people an easy excuse not to think about things that need to be thought about. And that’s not good."

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:57 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
That hasn't changed since, only now the rest can pretend. Also the makeup of that "few percent" has changed somewhat.
You yourself are not among the few percent most educated in this country, I'm almost certain.

Are you just pretending? (Actually, that's a silly question. The rest of your post suggests strongly that the answer is yes.)
But he might well be among the few percent of the most educated in the world. It's not that hard. Literacy and basic math is over 50 % worldwide, though.
True, but you'll note that I said "this country", assuming (perhaps falsely) that he was in one of the majority-literate countries most of the posters on this site come from.

Edit: using my secret mod powers, I have established that yes, Solarn was posting from a country with 99ish percent literacy, in which the most educated people are very educated indeed, and of which I therefore doubt he is among the top couple percent.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby KDLadage » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:28 pm UTC

Please tell me this will be followed with another century of like comments covering us to the modern day...

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby goofy » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:49 pm UTC

Daneel wrote:I'd say young people, lower classes, and the like succeeded pretty well in corrupting the language and forgetting all sorts of important spelling and grammar rules.


But since they can still communicate, how important can those spelling and grammar rules be?

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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:58 pm UTC

Well, they were pretty important to being able to communicate in the original language.
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:16 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:On the value of leisure thing, the fundamental problem as I see it is that for any but the most selfless of people, a stranger's leisure time is much less valuable than their own.--there is no uniformity or interchangeability as there is for commodities or products. I might labor to increase your leisure time in exchange for payment, but in the end I care more for the payment than for your leisure, unless you happen to be somebody in whom I am emotionally invested such as a friend or relative. In short, when push comes to shove, we care little for the benefit of others, except insofar as benefit comes to us from doing so.

What I'm still finding strange about this complaint though is that it applies to everything, not just leisure. Most people won't work just to feed or house a stranger either. We all mostly look out for ourselves and those closest to us, and get whatever we can from strangers we don't care about to provide for those ends. So when the question is "why don't we have more leisure time" specifically, and not "why do some people have more of everything than other people" (which is a far bigger question), then it is a question of why we each value our own leisure time less than other things that we trade it for.

It's dead easy for anyone to get all the leisure time they want: you can quit your job and go for a leisurely walk around the world for the rest of your days if you want. The question is why don't you want to, and the answer is that, for some reason(s), the only way to get things that you value even more than that leisure time is to sacrifice that leisure time in exchange for the money you need to get those other things. Perhaps you, and we all, as the market, are overvaluing those other things, or perhaps the market is undervaluing our time, there's a whole complex of issues there, but the reason we don't all have leisure time is we've all decided that it's not worth what we'd have to sacrifice to get it; the only questions remaining are "must we really sacrifice it?" (are we making the wrong decision?) and if so, "why must we sacrifice so much to get it?", and the answer to those questions is complex.

But it seems highly unusual to expect that others should value our leisure specifically, when they don't also value us being fed and sheltered and so on. We value those things ourselves. We just value some more than others. And when forced to choose between leisure and other things, we are choosing others things. We can ask why we are forced to choose (why can't we have both?), and why we make the choice we do when we are forced to choose (are we really better off with the things we trade our leisure for?), but asking why others don't value our leisure specifically seems strange, because why not ask the much bigger question in the first place of why others don't value our wellbeing in general and all take care of us and each other out of the goodness of our own hearts?
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Re: 1227: "The Pace of Modern Life"

Postby da Doctah » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:55 pm UTC

pitareio wrote:Air transport wasn't affordable in 1900 - it was non-existent. Today, international flights carry one billion passengers per year.

Yeah, it wasn't until 1910 that commercial air travel really began to take off.Image


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