Change has slowed down so much in the meat world

What people allegedly looked like in 1994. How are they different, except that they're not looking at their phones?

What people allegedly looked like in 1994. How are they different, except that they’re not looking at their phones?

I was looking at the pictures with my post about “Hoosiers,” and something hit me.

Do you realize that the 1980s — when the movie came out — are now as far in the past as the 1950s were when it was released?

That blows my mind. (Although not as much as when I reflect that the ’70s are now further back than the First World War was when I was born!) The early ’50s were ancient history, a different universe, a time hard to place yourself in, when the film was made. But the ’80s don’t seem long ago at all.

Yeah, some of that is age, and you younger folks won’t get it. The time in which the film was set was before I was born, but in the ’80s I was an adult and, by the end of the decade, the father of five kids.

But there’s more to it than that. It goes to my running theme about how much less dynamic our culture is today than it was within living memory.

In the world in which we Boomers grew up, popular culture — fashions, music, film, slang, the whole look and feel of living in America — changed markedly from year to year.

Yeah, the ’80s look different from now, so there’s a definite feeling of that decade being “past” — just not distant past. And I think that’s because if you look at pictures from the ’90s or the ’00s, things look pretty much the way they do now — except that now everybody’s walking around looking down at their phones.

Clothes, hair, cars may be slightly different from the early ’90s — but not as different as they tended to be from year to year in the ’60s.

It’s weird, to me, the way change has slowed down in the meat world, even as it has changed rapidly online. It’s like all of our dynamism, energy and creativity have poured into the virtual, abandoning the real…

Carnaby Street in London in the '60s, when change was what was happening.

Carnaby Street in London in the ’60s, when change was what was happening.

28 thoughts on “Change has slowed down so much in the meat world

  1. Bryan Caskey

    “And I think that’s because if you look at pictures from the ’90s or the ’00s, things look pretty much the way they do now — except that now everybody’s walking around looking down at their phones.”

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Here’s something to think about in terms of time from one point in history to another:

    We’re just about as far removed from the start of WWII (for us anyway, I’m using 1941) being 76 years, as the people were in 1941 were removed from the start of the Civil War (1861).

    When I’m reading about the Civil War, I think of that as ancient, ancient history. People were still using Napoleonic tactics, and the rifle was not yet in widespread use by the rank and file infantryman.

    It’s now just about the same as WWII is for people today. Which brings me to my excuse to link to this.

    1. bud

      Not to be contrarian but I think rifles were pretty common during the Civil War. Though rare there were a few around even during the American Revolution.

      Setting that aside WW II does not seem that long ago. Even WW I is relatively recent since my grandfather was a veteran of that conflict. Something about electricity and internal combustion engines that sets older eras apart as really, really ancient.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Yeah, there were some “rifles” like the 1861 Springfield, and it was more popular later in the war by the Union Army, if I recall correctly. However, it was still a breech-loading arm. Also, the tactics didn’t make use of any long distance rifled shots. Soldiers still used the Napoleonic tactics of massed volleys, which didn’t make use of a rifle’s accuracy.

        Certainly, the use of repeating rifles was extremely limited. The first “real” repeating rifle (in my opinion, anyway) was the Henry, which was the famous rifle that led Confederate troops to describe it as: “that damn Yankee rifle you load on Sunday and shoot all week!”. It was very limited in use, but it was the genesis of the repeating rifle that led to the development of all the rest of the repeating (lever action) rifles that were so famous in the American West.

        I think of the Civil War as the last non-modern war, but fought with proto-modern weapons. The Generals still used European tactics, had no mechanization to speak of, but the weapons were a bit more deadly. It’s why so many people died.

      2. Bryan Caskey

        “Though rare there were a few around even during the American Revolution.”

        No doubt. The Battle of King’s Mountain was won by frontiersmen who (I believe) were substantially armed with long rifles. George Washington even insisted that one of his portraits be made with a rifle.

        1. bud

          Did you see my Kings Mountain pics on FB? Learned a lot in about an hour hike around the tiny battlefield.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            I didn’t! Did you recently go? I’d love to try and get more Revolutionary War Battlefield tours, but I think I’m going to wait a bit until Henry is a little older.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      “We’re just about as far removed from the start of WWII (for us anyway, I’m using 1941) being 76 years, as the people were in 1941 were removed from the start of the Civil War (1861).”

      Stuff like that makes me say “Whoa!” like Keanu Reeves.

  3. Norm Ivey

    I prefer to use technological advancements as time markers in history.

    Pre and post home computer
    Pre and post TV
    Pre and post convenient electricity (REA)
    Pre and post personal automobile
    Pre and post railroads/Industrial Revolution
    Pre and post Gutenberg

    We went from the first powered flight to the first man in space in 58 years, and now it’s been 56 years since that milestone.
    Every student in my school was born at least 2 years after 9/11. Alaska and Hawaii became states, Buddy Holly died and Castro came to power two years before I was born.
    We occasionally have students who do not know how to power on a desktop computer because they’ve never used one before. (They will turn on the monitor, but the idea that you have to push two buttons is completely foreign to them.)
    They also have no idea why a Save icon looks like it does. Or in some cases why they have to save a document at all.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, there’s another stage after “Pre and post home computer.”

      It’s mobile devices. I think they come pretty close to being every bit as disruptive. At least the home computer stayed home.

      I don’t go anywhere without my iPad. Sometimes I forget my phone when I leave the house, but I don’t leave the iPad.

      And when I go to the Red Cross to give platelets — which takes at least two hours from the time I start pumping — I am STRONGLY tempted to turn around and leave if their wifi is malfunctioning. I really depend on being able to watch a movie, or several TV shows, while I’m immobilized. But if the wifi IS out, I just use it to read a book, or The New Yorker.

      I’m worrying that my iPad, after four years, is wearing out. Don’t know what I’m going to do if it dies on me. Can’t read newspapers or stay connected…

      1. Norm Ivey

        Absolutely. I’m constantly reaching for my phone or tablet also. The faster technology advances, the shorter the historical periods become. Maybe the inter-connectedness of our lives is one thing that has contributed to the homogenization of style you referred to in the original post.

        You do know you can buy a new iPad, right?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I’m told you have to have money for that.

          I bought this one when I had a windfall. Haven’t had one of those lately, and don’t see any on the horizon…

  4. Bob Amundson

    Elon Musk believes there is only a “one in billions” chance that we’re not living in a computer simulation. According to Musk, our lives are almost certainly being conducted within an artificial world powered by AI and highly-powered computers, like in The Matrix. He hopes his prediction is true because otherwise it means the world will end.

    So, just accept that you are in a computer simulation, most likely in the midst of a game your future self is playing.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I thought The Matrix would be more interesting than this. Why do I keep playing? The fun parts are when I spend time with my family, and there should be way more of that!

      As for this: “He hopes his prediction is true because otherwise it means the world will end.” What makes him think it won’t end anyway?

      His belief seems rather theological — an update of the concept that this life is just a parenthesis in eternity. Whatever you call it, it amounts to the same thing…

      1. Bob Amundson

        If you are interested in how he supports the ideas, just Google “Elon Musk and Virtual Reality” and you’ll find the interview and numerous other sources that try to explain his theory.

            1. Bob Amundson

              Perhaps your future self will answer that question. Steve Jobs attributed much of his success to LSD; maybe Musk does, too!

              1. Bob Amundson

                Perhaps your future self will have you take “acid” and meet the White Rabbit himself! The possibilities are endless.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          About Elon Musk…

          It must be great to be so rich that you’re not at all concerned about people thinking you’re bat____.

          Even when I was paid to write whatever I thought about anything and everything — and I had a freedom in that job that most people can’t begin to imagine (they like to assume people are TELLING you what to write) — there were limits, at least theoretically. Fortunately, most of what I think is pretty normal, and I could easily have spent the rest of my life writing about THAT stuff. I would never have run out of material.

          But what if some of my notions about what to do about issues in our world were so out there that I couldn’t have written them without being regarded as paranoid schizophrenic? Well, first, I wouldn’t have gotten the job to start with. Second, the rest of the team would have exerted a gravitational pull that would have kept me in line. It’s hard to explain how that works, but basically you don’t want to let down the team, so sometimes you hold back.

          I’m trying to think of something I held back on, and not arriving. But I can think of something I thought about holding back on, but didn’t: Single-payer. There were lots of reasons NOT to write about that, but I did anyway. The reasons against would go like this: Our priority was South Carolina, not national or international issues. To be able to have an impact on local and state issues, to be a viable voice in the forum, it was important to be a credible across a broad spectrum of views, to make it hard for people on the left, right, or in the middle to dismiss you.

          Single-payer is a national issue. There’s no point even thinking about it if we don’t do it nationally. Almost nothing we said about it was likely to move the needle, since we weren’t a national publication. And our congressional delegation is unreachable on the subject. But here in SC, the political majority is allergic to the notion, and calls it names like “socialized medicine.” People on the right LOVE to dismiss journalists as liberals, even when it’s totally off-base to do so, as it was with us. Why give them an excuse to say, “Look how far to the left they are! Not even Obama advocates for THAT. Why should we listen to anything they say on any other topic?”

          So it posed the problems of being unlikely to do any good, and likely to do harm on other issues.

          But I wrote about it anyway. Why? Because I felt like somebody had to. I was VERY frustrated that not even liberal Democrats had the guts to step out and say what I believed needed to be said. (Note the context in which I started writing about it: “Can anyone (any viable candidate, that is) say ‘single-payer?’” I truly felt it was wrong that no one but flakes like Dennis Kucinich were willing to speak up for it.

          Second, I see it as plain common sense, not something wild-eyed and radical. And I thought I could demonstrate that by the way I advocated it. And I think I did.

          It wasn’t the newspaper’s stated position; I advocated it in personal columns. And my colleagues didn’t protest, although they may have been eyeing me warily…

  5. Bill

    Wrong. Change has not slowed down. It only appears so, if you look at things superficially.

    Here’s what Vint Cerf, who developed the internet protocol (IP) in 1974, said recently about how development since then:

    “Technology has developed so rapidly that our thinking and our institutions have not been able to keep pace.”

    That’s where you have to look.

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