Wimminz – celebrating skank ho's everywhere

January 12, 2014

The spirit of the age.

Filed under: Wimminz — Tags: — wimminz @ 2:05 pm

When I was an older child, we had a television, a 405 line VHF job with a 12 inch black and white screen, and analog turn a dial tuning like a long wave radio, and two channels, BBC and a regional independent channel, each channel needed a different antennae on the roof too… different frequency innit.. we were *fairly* progressive in this, I watched the moon landings on it… but television was still new enough in personal experience terms that only a few years before my mother had been watching a cowboy film at her brother’s house, fight scene in a room, oil lantern falls off the table out of camera shot and smashes on the floor, flames leap up… my mother gets up and walks towards the set so she can look down and see the lantern on the floor.. of course she can’t.

I think I was 8 when we got that telly, before that is was just radio, a Hitachi job with “12 transistors” written on the front of it, transistors still being new and expensive things, the reel to reel tape deck, audio amp for the stereo (and many of the “long playing” 33.3 RPM records you bought were still mono too, and telly were all thermionic valves, as was the radio prior to the Hitachi. There was no compact cassete, or anything else, 78 RPM, 45 RPM, 33.3 RPM records, and reel to reel, and if you were dead posh you might have an 8 mm cine camera and projector, or one of the new “Super” 8 mm jobs, and the first cine cameras were clockwork…

If you flew anywhere, which we did, being of that breed of Englishmen who like mad dogs used to go out into the midday sun, and travel the world and former colonies plying their trades, it was British Overseas Airways Corporation, and long haul flights were (Lockheed) connies and super connies (Constellations), planes with 4 not even turboprop engines, piston propeller engines in other words… going places by sea was still viable, but as the suez was still shut it meant going around africa so 4 weeks in a fast liner and 8 weeks in a more usual cargo + passenger vessel, which compared to the mere 3 and a half days it took by plane, if you were going to Singapore say.

In our region of the UK STD had just arrived for telephones, so not only could you direct dial anyone in your local town, you could direct dial someone in a different town, no operator needed to make the connection, that was assuming they had a phone of course, many many private individuals did not, even some businesses did not…. our phone number was townname 811… you could always tell directions from the telegraph poles that carried all the telephone lines too, the insulators and cross trees were always on the same side with respect to London.

School (primary, meaning ages 5 to 11) was almost exactly a mile away, there was a private bus, you either turned up for it or you didn’t, unless it was raining everyone would walk, especially after school, nobody counted you in or out, the bus could make the outward journey in the morning with 30 kids on board, and the return journey in the afternoon with 5 on board, nobody cared…. as long as you were home by teatime and your uniform wasn’t too messed up with grass stains and holes… nobody (kids) had watches either, if you needed to know the time you asked a grown up, or looked in a shop.

As you can gather from the radio with 12 transistors and thermionic valves for everything else, technology by modern standards didn’t exist, and it certainly didn’t exist for kids. In the real grown up world it meant businesses sent out bills and stuff that were all done by hand, pen and ink, some “city” businesses and lawyers and such would use typists, if the firm was big enough, from a typing pool..

There was Pounds, and Shillings, and Pence, (LSD) 12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound, 240 pence in one pound, some stuff was quoted in pounds, it was quoted in guineas, which were 21 shillings.

You could pay a bill with a cheque, or buy a car or a horse or a house, but everything else was cash. There just wasn’t anything else. Wages were paid in cash, weekly, very very very few exceptions, city types might be doing the new monthly paid directly into the bank account thing, but not in the country, more people had telephones than had bank accounts.

If you were going to drive any distance outside the area you knew, you used a map book, it was that or get lost, period, none of this shit about I can’t read maps, if you did that you got lost too, and got lost = ran out of fuel, and then your problems started, because to get more money you had to find a branch of your bank, and they were only open Monday to Friday 9 am to 3:30 pm, and they would ring your bank in your village and ask if they knew you before allowing you to sign a counter cheque and draw money, assuming you even had a bank account…. routes thus selected weren’t always optimum, but they worked and you learned your way around from landmarks and such, and sometimes you picked up a short-cut or two, but even this, the roads and such, has changed so utterly that my own father, were he alive, would not, literally would not, be able to find his way around the country he was born in…. *I* have fucking difficulties, I can see the new roads and shit, but why did they put it THERE and cut across and cut off all THIS, so you try and go sideways to the next but, and that has been altered too..

Computers? Let me explain this to you, there were mainframes, massive fucking things literally weighing tons, and they were about as common and prevalent and likely to come across one in every day life as you were a nuclear reactor. You were just as likely to get access too or use of or contact with one as the other.

Cash registers and adding machines were just that, mechanical monstrosities that made a typewriter look as complex precision as lego duplo…. PROPER book keepers and clerks did not add up L base 20 S base 12 D pounds shilling and pence colums one column at a time, all the pennies then the shillings then then pounds, they did all three at once line by line, and they’d so 4 or 5 lines a second… these people were sometimes referred to as a computer, so if the word had a meaning in day to day like, that was it.

Book-keeping was just that, double entry ledgers, and you can’t fiddle a double entry book keeping system, except by keeping two sets of books, one with the real numbers, and one with the wrong numbers, and even the wrong numbers had to match and add up. Writing in ink on paper doesn’t allow you to hide any errors or typos either, you have to strike through the entire line and do it again.

If you were a proper engineer or a scientist or a university student, you’d use something called a slide rule, 3 digit precision, or, a book of log and trig tables, 3 digit precision, maybe 6 if it was an expensive book.  A slide rules was a ruler with a middle bit that slid, left to right relative to the main bit, and it had a cursor that slid along too.

So “readin, ritin and rithmetic” (the “Three R’s”) were pretty much it, but even the worst and dumbest student had to do them with a facility that would stagger the very best students today, you had to be able to read “books” as in book keeping books, not novels, or bills of lading, or inventory, or invoice, you had to be able to write them, and you had to be able to do the math that was thus written and read as numeric values.

Literally everything else you can think of, didn’t exist.

Much of it wasn’t even “science fiction”, nobody had even thought of it at all, even theoretically, because the thing itself depended on three or more other bits that were themselves wildly fantastical and improbable science fiction.

High Frequency Trading” (HFT) is one such thing, do not be deceived and think that all advances and effects are purely physical, such as advances in auto-mobiles or airframes, some of the most telling are far less exciting on the face of it, the loss of the typing pool (and associated jobs) for the new word processor computers is one such, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is a necessary brick in a society that has things like HFT, you can’t build HFT on anything that has a pen and paper anywhere below it, for every letter sent from a bank or company to a customer or supplier, two or three were sent internally, now that also was “automated” away from the clerk and ink well.

So much is lost today, not just a sense of how things were, but data itself…

This story, which everyone knew oh so recently when the www was new, has now all but vanished into oblivion… type the billion watt bulb into google and you get pages of crap and dead links… anyway… here it is….

Subject: The billion watt light bulb, or how I nearly got Darwined.
Subject: The billion watt light bulb, or how I nearly got Darwined.
From: “Keith F. Lynch” <kfl@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 1997 18:55:06 -0500
Message-ID: <199701102355.SAA22638@access5.digex.net>
Newsgroups: .mlist. DARWIN DARWIN@yorku.ca

A billion years ago, I got to work with a fourteen watt light bulb.

No, wait. That’s not quite right. Let me start over…

Fourteen years ago, I got to work with a billion watt light bulb.

It wasn’t a bulb, exactly. It was more of a candle. Except that
instead of wax, it burned aluminum dust, which is sold in ton lots
as a paint base. And instead of burning it in air, it was mixed
with liquid oxygen in a supersonic jet.

I forget how many tons of aluminum and oxygen it used per second,
but it never ran for more than ten seconds at a time.

The nozzle was about half a foot wide, and was made of some kind
of durable high-temperature ceramic, perhaps fused lime. The flame
that came out of it was much wider, and gave off slightly more than
a billion watts of pure white light.

We used it in the New Mexico desert, about fifty miles west of
Albuquerque, in a five foot deep concrete-lined trench, which is in a
natural depression. The area is completely desolate, and looks just
like the Viking pictures of Mars. It’s completely silent there when
the wind isn’t blowing. There is no sign of mankind, or any other
life whatsoever.

Nevertheless, calls were made to 911 from up to a hundred miles away
whenever the thing was used. Panicky reports were made of UFOs,
exploding substations, crashing jets, and nuclear explosions.

Attempts to photograph it usually result in the destruction of the
camera. One person managed to do it, by using something like f22 and
1/1000th of a second through welders goggles. But that photo makes it
look like it’s being set off at midnight, with nothing but darkness at
any distance from the immense irregular white flame, and with a pitch
black sky. In fact, it was taken at about noon on a sunny day.

I’ve calculated that it ought to be easily visible from the moon.
Better yet, arrays of them could be set up on the moon, and used
to spell out advertising slogans. Obnoxious? Sure. But less so
than unsolicited commercial e-mail. Give Spamford Wallace the
moon, if he’ll promise to leave our mailboxes alone.

About ten feet away were our test samples — heavily instrumented
sheet metal covered with various types of “fireproof” paint, to see
which ones would best stand up to nearby nuclear explosions. I ran
the computer equipment that collected and analyzed the data, in a
portable metal shed about a hundred feet away. The shed had a narrow
window which faced away from the light source.

When the light turned on, the patch of desert visible through the
narrow window lit up as if it had been turned into the stuff the sun
is made of. At the same time, there was a noise and vibration like a
jet taking off nearby, only much louder.

One of the people who ran the thing for us mentioned that he had
gone outside during some tests. Darwin whispered a suggestion into
my ear at that point, so I didn’t hear the part about how far away
he was at the time, or how he protected himself.

I took Darwin’s suggestion and stepped outside during the next test,
about two seconds after I had pressed the ENTER key on the LeCroy
3500 microcomputer, and two seconds before the light came on.
I then took several steps forward to get a better view.

The light came on. I felt like I had stepped into a blast furnace.
I couldn’t see anything but *bright* — as if someone had stuck a
flashbulb in each eye and then somehow set them off in such a way
that they stayed on instead of instantly going out again. On another
Darwinian occasion, I had looked directly into a laser. This was
incomparably brighter.

I immediately turned tail and ran back into the shed. I have no
idea how I found the door.

When I could see again, I discovered that I was sunburned everywhere
my skin was exposed, that all the tiny hairs on my hands and arms
had gone up in smoke, and that my clothes were partially melted.

I was strongly berated for my “suicidal” stunt, and told that I was
lucky I had a programmer’s complexion. If I had been black, or even
had a tan, I would have made an ash out of myself.

I had been about 70 feet away from the light. A trashbag
left next to the shed 100 feet away from the light had burst into

The results of the experiment? All kinds of fireproof paint burn
well, when you give them a good start. Some of them explosively so.
Sheet metal burns even better. Conclusion: If a nuclear bomb ever
off nearby, be somewhere else at the time. Somewhere else very far
Like on another continent.

I’ve been left with no permanent effects from my short visit with
Charles. I do have a permanent ringing in my ears, but I suspect
that’s due to earlier risk taking. Perhaps it’s from the time I
manufactured some high explosive and set it off so close to me that
it tore my clothes off. On the other hand, it may be from the time
I unrolled a capacitor, used the resulting long thin foil as a kite
string, and flew it across some high tension lines.

1 Comment

  1. That story is indeed an “epic failure”.
    Heroic. :O

    And the next generation WE´RE looking forward to shaping our future is ..


    Comment by hans — January 12, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

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