The more it changes the more it stays the same — until it changes again

Did you know that as recently as 1990 the word ‘Internet’ wasn’t used? Did you know that a reference to 1990 as being “recently” kind of dates me? It’s 22 years ago, for God’s sake.

But, as we pass from yet another year after 1990 into a further year, it gives me pause for thought that some elements of life that seemed of vital importance not so very long ago have become archaisms.

Winston Churchill once wrote that some of the gentlemen present at his baptism had fought Napoleon at Waterloo. Churchill fought Hitler and was alive into the space age. I was an adult when he died. It moves along quickly, does history. So does life and so do things that may seem vitally important at any given moment.

Like dated fashions the vital elements of times past can seem quaint, disagreeable, or downright hilarious in their tastelessness. For example, I watched a bit of Saturday Night Fever a couple of days ago. Hee-hee. White suit, guffaw. Vinnie Barbarino as credible sex symbol. ROTFL.

By the way ‘ROTFL’ would have meant nothing in 1990. So, blessedly, would have LOL. There were virtues to life-oldschool. By the way, and only as a smug aside, I have never once used LOL in an email, Facebook or elsewhere. But that may be because not too many things are so mirthful that I actually “laugh out loud.” “Why are you laughing out loud?” Wendy will call out from the other room. “That’s not like you.”

Now that I am a country mile off-topic I’ll get back to what I was attempting to say. That is that stuff comes and goes and what once seemed so important (like a former marriage, for example) fades into either irrelevance or just a bad memory to not be exercised too often.

But the old-order changeth, and it does so very rapidly. Remember when:

–         People taped TV shows and movies on VHS cassettes. I have a huge rack of VHS tapes. I almost literally do not watch any of them.

–         People bought videocams and ubiquitously violated the privacy of others with them. I have one. I paid $1,000 for it. It hasn’t been used in years. My little digital camera does the same thing and less obtrusively.

–         Cameras used films that had to be processed and waited for.

–         It was boss to have a car with a four-barrel carb. Cars had carburetors and fuel-injection was viewed with suspicion.

–         Car interiors were littered with both cassette-tapes and tobacco ash.

–         You were just a little wary of unleaded gasoline.

–         Older cars exuded plumes of smoke due to burning oil when the valves were shot.

–         Cars got 15-miles to the gallon and that was considered good mileage. They also rarely lasted much past 100,000 miles and tires were good for about 20,000 tops.

–         You warmed your car engine up before starting out and then you tramped on the gas before turning it off so you could blow out any unused fuel from that four-barrel carb.

–         You bought that ultra-modern typewriter into which you could insert a correction tape, thus negating the need to use Whiteout. (Still have on of those sitting in the garage. Want to buy it?)

–         Whiteout.

–         Genuine filament-bearing incandescent lightbulbs were the norm and nobody could imagine that somebody with an overbearing sense of moral rectitude could find Mr. Edison’s invention questionable and demand that you replace it with an inferior product at an inflated price.

Now, before you think I am being negative, I’m not. I believe most of our tech advances are great. Except for those stupid light bulbs.








9 responses to “The more it changes the more it stays the same — until it changes again

  1. By 1990 I think using the term “boss” to describe something that you thought was pretty cool was considered old school. 🙂
    I recently uncovered some of my grandfather’s radio licences from 1923-25, thinking they are for shortwave radio, and he had to renew them every year. Now we have Sirius radio and Howard Stern.

  2. So nice to see you here, Susie. In fact, I could say it’s boss to see you here. And you’re right, I should have mentioned some expressions passe and otherwise. ‘Awesome’ is a relatively recent and increasingly irritating one. Oh, and one I read the other day, ‘iconic’ used for things that are far from iconic. Yes, radio licences. My dad had some of those.

  3. Bloody light bulbs! In a house designed for recessed down-lights, you can imagine how ridiculous those corkscrew things look!
    Too bad you’re so far away as I could use a typewriter (gave away our last one).
    I wonder what technology and language will have given us 22 years from now?

    • I have been hoarding conventional bulbs for the last couple of years so I think we’re good to go for quite a while. Think I’d rather sit in the dark than use the other kind.

  4. I’ve used LOL because I actually laughed out loud. I laugh out loud pretty easily. But I haven’t rolled on the floor laughing since maybe 1974 when Dad and I were watching George Carlin on TV one night. I didn’t think I’d ever stop laughing that night. I walked around for days asking “What does a dog do on his day off?
    You’ll be glad to know that the U.S. government changed their mind about the stupid lightbulb thing. I am very happy about that.
    Speaking of “new” technology. When we got our first cordless phone in the early 90’s, out of habit I always stood right by the base to talk. I think I did that for about a month.
    I loved that report on your last post. That was pretty cool.

    • Oh, I actually ‘do’ laugh out loud quite often, I just don’t indicate it. Oh, and Carlin is absolutely well worth rolling on the floor laughing over. But, I rarely do actually ROTFL.

  5. I agree with you about those light bulbs, especially as I need lots of good lighting for reading.
    Happy New Year to you Ian, here’s wishing you every happiness.

    • Happy New Year to you too, Ellee. So very nice to hear from you and I think it’s time we all mounted an international campaign against those ghastly lightbulbs. You have political connections so maybe you could have impact.

  6. My father had a massive collection of lightbulbs I would not part with. And now i’m using them again. Recently took all those CFL new fangled crappy lighting bulbs for disposal. I’m using regular lightbulbs and happier.

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