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TV Time Warp: Absolutely Fabulous Anachronisms

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I’m going to take a little break from talking about human suffering in on screen to bring you a different way of encountering social norms through television.

abfab
Comedic duo Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as accidentally neo-Luddite Edina and Patsy

Enter the legendary British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous about trashy London women working in high fashion in the 1990’s. I’m an older millennial and I remember watching the show when it aired in the US on Comedy Central. I didn’t really know what was going on but they talked funny so I was hooked. Now that I live in London and call myself a “media anthropologist”, it seems as a good time as any to revisit.

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Edina uses her electronic organizer to ignore doing any actual organizing

While on a flight I came across an old episode where main character Edina gets an electronic organizer and it ruins her life. Well, her life was already pretty horrible but the device ends up becoming a total nuisance and she throws it out the window. My iphone is practically an extension of my body, so I winced a little at that scene.

Later, she calls her assistant Bubbles to come over and take notes. The strange blonde pixie arrives with a pad and pen and Eddie asks, “Where is your computer?!” She had previously told Bubbles to get a “lap top”. Confused, and perhaps a little scared, Bubbles reveals she has a tiny “lap dog” in her purse.

Bubbles holds an early version of the iPad, called a "pad"
Bubbles holds an early version of the iPad, called a “pad”

This episode, “Door Handle”, aired in 1995 and is curiously anti-technology. Even in the newer iterations of the adventures of Edina and Patsy, the two never really come to terms with the way technology has changed their society. They stay fabulously aloof. Given that in the 90’s their characters were anachronisms constantly pining for their younger days with “Mick and the boys”, this all fits neatly together. So who could really blame creator Jennifer Saunders for failing to recognize where mobile phone technology might go?

 

What older TV shows have you re-watched and felt a pang of nostalgia for their technology?

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  • shawn k

    Many Seinfeld episodes revolve around problems that wouldn’t exist if they all had cell phones.

    • The creators stopped posting in 2015, but the @SeinfeldToday Twitter was brilliant. https://twitter.com/SeinfeldToday

    • LeeEsq

      Same with horror movies or murder mysteries where a group of people are isolated and a crazy killer is on the loose.

      • Ramon A. Clef

        It messes with a lot of mystery novel tropes, too. Some writers invent elaborate excuses for their characters to lose their phones (or run out of battery) at every inopportune moment. The partners who write as P. J. Parrish deliberately set their series before the cell phone era because they did not want to have to keep up with the technology.

        • nixnutz

          Law & Order UK has a similar thing, it’s remakes of the greatest hits of the original series but now the cops solve all the crimes by looking at CCTV footage.

          • Crusty

            We don’t have as much cctv here (although we’re getting there), but lots of shows we’ll feature someone tracked by their cell phone tower pings.

        • LeeEsq

          A lot of mystery and horror troops are based on the premise of being unable to communicate with the outside world and get help. Cell phones, especially smart phones with internet access, really make it hard to get that type of isolation anymore. You really need to come up with some contrived conveniences to pull it off.

          • Bill Murray

            like the network going down? or an automatic update that prevents using your electronics until it finishes? or an update or server malfunction fubars the network

            • Or working in my building with no cell reception because it’s in a slight bowl. (or anywhere in rural NM).

              • los

                or a building that is wrapped in aluminum foil to keep obama’s[1] deepstate brainwaves from getting in… or out.

                __________
                1. really THE SOROS

    • Crusty

      Off the top of my head, there’s the episode where Kramer gets Jerry a two-line phone for his birthday, Jerry gets his dad a personal digital assistant/organizer thing which his dad refers to as a tip calculator because it has a calculator function that his dad can use at restaurants- Jerry is frustrated that his dad doesn’t realize it does other things, and then there are episodes where they’re trying to meet up with each other at the movies but they keep getting the times and location mixed up. A text or phone call would solve that.

      There’s also one of my favorite scenes, where Kramer pretends to be moviefone, but nobody uses that anymore.

      Then you can move to a more general level- with a simple google search, the unemployment lady would learn that there is no Vandelay Industries and they are not in need of a latex salesman.

      And finally, there’d be basically no socializing in Jerry’s apartment- all just texting.

      • njorl

        I feel confident that Kramer’s intern could whip up a “Vandelay Industries” web site for George, which advertised an opening for a latex salesman.
        People would respond. Kramer’s intern would arrange for interviews. Kramer would interview people, just for kicks.
        He’d be so impressed with someone that he’d offer him a job. Jerry would try to explain to Kramer that he doesn’t actually have any latex to sell. Kramer would respond by saying what a good salesman the guy is, thinking that he is making a rational argument.

        • Crusty

          I like it. Alternatively, Jerry explains to Kramer that he doesn’t actually have any latex to sell, and Kramer goes, well, I guess I hadn’t considered that.

        • los

          njorl says:

          Kramer’s intern could whip up a “Vandelay Industries” web site for George

          To economize, the website would also handle both the cheese shop and the dead parrot shop.

          • los

            “Kool. A mashup.”

      • los

        Crusty says:

        A text or phone call would solve that.

        That’s what the reptoids[1] want you to think, while they intercept and replace yoour messages.
        Apparently you read too much fakenews. Go to prisonplanet for the truth.

        __________
        1. but really THE SOROS

    • jmauro

      Friends is very much the same. All the time spent waiting at home for a call, confusion about which roommate the call was for, being unable to find people when away from the house or cafe, and the answering machine antics are now painful to watch in the age of almost everyone having their own cellphone.

      • kvs

        Most of the show would take place on social media, too.

      • los

        replaced by battery level anxiety

  • UnderTheSun

    So who could really blame creator Jennifer Saunders for failing to recognize where mobile phone technology might go?

    It’s a comedy drama so being opposed to electronic devices is a cheap plot device to gain laughs. Whether or not Jennifer Saunders knows where mobile phone technology might have gone is an entirely different matter but there are people out there who weren’t enamoured of mobile phone technology.

    • It was certainly never a drama =)

    • Whether or not Jennifer Saunders knows where mobile phone technology might have gone is an entirely different matter but there are people out there who weren’t enamoured of mobile phone technology.

      Many of those people are still around, including myself.

      • rhino

        Certainly a two edged sword.

        I love having the world at my fingertips. Can’t say I enjoy having myself at my boss’s fingertips, especially when he feels I should pick up the phone after working hours. We need an app that records how much time we spend doing labour on our smart phones, and automatically bills our employers for overtime at say 10X our normal pay. Pass a law. Then this shit would only happen for actual emergencies.

        My boss gave me shit once for not picking up the phone while at dinner with my (now ex) wife. It was our anniversary (which he knew) and he wanted to ask me something that a) it was his job to know already, b) it was not my job to know at all, and c) could not only have waited until morning, it could have waited for *weeks*. That was when I stopped giving bosses my cell phone number.

        • Stag Party Palin

          When the first pagers arrived it was a status symbol to have one. A bit later on, it became a status symbol NOT to have one because you were too important to be bothered with calls from your boss/patient/spouse.

          I don’t have a cell phone because they don’t work where I live. It’s wonderful.

        • Yeah, I had a boss once who had to have slept with her blackberry under her pillow. I would get up in the morning and there would be texts from like 2am.

          • I had a boss like that. I quit without getting paid because those 3am emails were daily and started to turn into “I’m going to call until you pick up”. I wasn’t about to let it turn in to full stalking behavior.

    • ChrisGrrr

      Thank you, thank you!

      Criticizing Saunders for this “failure” is the clearest proof I could need that some writers are worth avoiding from now on.

      • I love AbFab. You assume I think her disgust toward technology is a bad thing? You should meet the guy I married.

    • shawn k

      ” being opposed to electronic devices is a cheap plot device to gain laughs. ”

      I recently came across a Married with Children where Peg talked Al into buying a computer. By the end he smashed it to bits with a baseball bat to joyous applause from the live audience.

  • N__B

    The Avengers. There was no crime, no geopolitical crisis that couldn’t be fixed with an umbrella, a steel-lined bowler hat, and some karate.

    • Wait…that’s not true?

    • LeeEsq

      Don’t forget the cat suit.

      • rhino

        I see that cat suit in my dreams. I was introduced to it at a very susceptible time in my development.

        To this day, when I hear ‘The Avengers’ I do not think of Iron Man or the Hulk, but Emma Peel, and John Steed.

        Despite the flaws, I have watched the reboot film with Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes a dozen times, longing for what might have been.

    • Farther back: The Prisoner.

    • rea

      Oh, those Avengers!

    • The Dark God of Time

      Don’t forget, you need a trained professional and a talented amateur.

  • MAJeff

    Eddie’s speech at the PR PR Person’s Award Dinner of the Month Lunch pretty much sums it up, “I don’t want more choices, I just want better things!”

    • I just love that PR PR Person of the Month was a thing. =)

    • MAJeff

      oops…nicer things, not better things.

  • Xenos

    Yes, Minister. The existence of witty and clever people in positions of power (even if just in the civil service) was not such an escapist fantasy. A classy comedy that had a relatively knowledgeable audience.

  • LeeEsq

    My kid and teen years were during the 1980s and 1990s and really can’t imagine going back to life before the Internet and smart phones. Arranging a simple get together with friends would take more work than it does now because everybody would have to be contacted on their home or work phone in advance unless you socialized together at school or work and definite plans set. The positive side to this is that people might have committed more because arranging get togethers was harder.

    • The positive side to this is that people might have committed more because arranging get togethers was harder.

      And yet life was mysteriously so simpler back then.

      • Was it though? My dad could get lost trying to find a restaurant for hours. Now at 66 with an iphone he’ll get lost for one hour at most. =)

        • Of course, I’m looking back through rose colored glasses, but life did seem to be a lot less hectic back then without innumerable devices clamoring for my attention :-)

          • LeeEsq

            Both can be true. Life was less hectic because it was harder to contact people so you needed to give them leeway. It was more complicated in other ways though.

            • I dunno. I kind of miss the days when people didn’t freak out if you didn’t respond within 30 seconds of them leaving you a message, and when people had an attention span that was longer than 9 seconds :-)

              • LeeEsq

                Americans always had a short attention span. Vaudeville developed as a form of entertainment because of that.

                • The Dark God of Time

                  No, the real genius of vaudeville was to make such entertainments family-friendly.

                  In the early 1880s, impresario Tony Pastor, a circus ringmaster turned theatre manager, capitalized on middle class sensibilities and spending power when he began to feature “polite” variety programs in several of his New York City theatres. The usual date given for the “birth” of vaudeville is October 24, 1881 at New York’s Fourteenth Street Theater, when Pastor famously staged the first bill of self-proclaimed “clean” vaudeville in New York City.[2] Hoping to draw a potential audience from female and family-based shopping traffic uptown, Pastor barred the sale of liquor in his theatres, eliminated bawdy material from his shows, and offered gifts of coal and hams to attendees. Pastor’s experiment proved successful, and other managers soon followed suit.

                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville

                  If you read the autobiography Harpo Speaks, In talking about he and his brothers time in vaudeville, he has list of words that were forbidden to be used onstage, like swell, lousy, or rotten.

                • Hogan

                  Mothers of River City!
                  Heed that warning before it’s too late!
                  Watch for the tell-tale sign of corruption!
                  The minute your son leaves the house,
                  Does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee?
                  Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger?
                  A dime novel hidden in the corn crib?
                  Is he starting to memorize jokes from Capt.
                  Billy’s Whiz Bang?
                  Are certain words creeping into his conversation?
                  Words like, like “swell”?
                  And “so’s your old man”?
                  Well, if so my friends,
                  Ya got trouble!

              • corporatecake

                The problem in cases of freaking out over not getting a response in 30 seconds isn’t technology, it’s an asshole. Everyone with any sense and manners knows there’s a thousand reasons someone might take a while to respond.

  • Woodrowfan

    The X-Files would have been very different with cell phones. (and you know Buffy would have had an episode with a demon-infested phone app)

    • The X-Files did do an episode with smart phones! I didn’t like the episodes they made in 2016, but I did think the one where Mulder tries to take photos of a were-lizard was brilliant. But it was mostly great because of Rhys Darby.

      Scully’s comment was “Mulder, the Internet has not been good for you.”

      • I was watching a Star Trek rerun the other night, and they had a pretty good representation of a flat screen monitor.

        • kvs

          The Star Trek series have been pretty good about getting the direction of everyday technology.

          • wca

            A lot of old sci-fi shows like Trek and Babylon 5 rely on people having personal communicators, but just didn’t pick up on the fact that almost everyone will have them and not just command staff.

          • MJSS

            Or influencing…

          • How about the PADD, a touchscreen-based tablet computer? In DS9 they’re depicted as being able to transfer data by near-field communication, too.

            • N__B

              In the first story of what became the Foundation Trilogy, published in the 40s, Asimov describes what sure sounds like an iPad.

      • Bill Murray

        Also,the were-lizard episode was written by Darin Morgan, who write many of the best original X-Files episodes

    • Adam The K

      Buffy did do a very early “demon in the Internet” episode where Giles is an hilarious Luddite.

      And The X-Files exposed the danger of a creepy fat-eating mutant dude trawling chat rooms for prey.

    • The Night Stalker would have been impossible in an age of cel phones.

      • Woodrowfan

        ohhh, good one. I loved that show..

        • N__B

          The one with the Aztec sacrifices gave me nightmares for years.

    • MJSS

      On the flip side, Breaking Bad would need a pretty significant rewrite to work without cell phones. And I think Orphan Black couldn’t exist at all. Lots of plots get killed by cell phones, but there’s a whole other class of plots that get enabled (especially by anonymous burner phones).

    • veleda_k

      Dawn got a cell phone in season seven of Buffy, and they played it like a huge deal. Now a teenager with a cell phone would jut be expected.

  • So who could really blame creator Jennifer Saunders for failing to recognize where mobile phone technology might go?

    Or, perhaps, she was spot on, and we would all be a lot better off if we tossed our smart phones in the trash.

    • This is my husband’s dream. We’re the same age.

      Although he really does like the ability to go geo-caching with his smart phone. A fun mix of the good outdoors with social media.

      • A quick google search turned up a CNN story in which 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their cell phones, a there are studies linking cell phone use to social anxiety disorder. Perhaps your husband has a point :-)

    • Dennis Orphen

      And while we’re at the trash can we shouldn’t forget to dig out our watches, cameras, notebooks, daily planners, calendars, flashlights, cassette or cd walkman/radios, and such.

      • wca

        we shouldn’t forget to dig out our watches

        I still don’t quite get why people have given up on watches. Is there something wrong with a device that can tell time that you never need to remember to charge up*** and that you can take surfing with you without worry that a little water or collision with sand might ruin half your electronic life?

        ***I have a solar watch that sets itself via that atomic clock radio signal, and I love the thing.

        • Dennis Orphen

          I sometimes charge my phone with a solar panel and it gets its time setting from a radio signal.

          • los

            solar panel

            You modded a beer hat?

            Combine phone and wristwatch in the dick tracy smartwatch.
            Screen size remains without affordable solution.

      • bender

        My purse contains a daily planner, two mini flashlights, a little black book, a clamshell dumb phone and a lot of other stuff. I am not an early adopter.

    • wca

      Or, perhaps, she was spot on, and we would all be a lot better off if we tossed our smart phones in the trash.

      I’d happily toss the “phone” part in the trash, but you will pry my portable internet device from my cold, dead hands.

    • Origami Isopod

      And let's kill our televisions while we're at it. It's just an intellectual wasteland. Why can't people just spend that time re-reading the collective works of Proust? Also, teenagers these days.

      • Why can’t people just spend that time re-reading the collective works of Proust?

        And imagine the world where that was a reality.

        • Origami Isopod

          No thanks, I’d rather live in a world where people with unexamined snobbery didn’t dictate everyone else’s leisure habits.

        • What if I read them….ON AN IPAD????

          =)

          • los

            you devious intersectionalist!

      • los

        teenagers these days.

        get off of my holodeck

        • You guys do realize it was the youths who brought back swing dancing and have 80’s dance nights at the clubs, right? And we do it with smart phones.

          Go check out Post Modern Jukebox, which is all millennials using YouTube to bring back classic music styles by covering modern songs. They’re incredibly popular.

      • Ahuitzotl

        Proust? That degenerate?? Stick to Kipling, and you cant go wrong, my son.

  • Merkwürdigliebe

    Well, her life was already pretty horrible but the device ends up becoming a total nuisance and she throws it out the window.

    Is it possible that the incident got spoofed in Terry Pratchett’s Jingo!, with the demonic organizer Vimes receives and then throws away?

    • JonH

      I was going to mention Jingo as well. Is it possible that there was a particularly unpleasant digital organizer on the market in the UK in the mid-90s?

      Perhaps the Psion series 3?

  • Peterr

    I stumbled across an episode of Hogan’s Heroes the other day. In the Trump era, it has a different vibe to it . . . Col. Klink running the best, most fantastic, and incredible prison camp ever, the Gestapo running around, sometimes ordering Klink to do X and sometimes having to defer to him; pretty women distracting Klink with very little problem; etc.

    • NonyNony

      Comparing Trump to Klink is really unfair to Klink. Sure he’s incompetent, but he’s more of a Peter-principle type of incompetence than the child-of-privilege incompetence we see with Trump.

      (Hogan’s Heroes is a really weird show. I’ve been watching it quite a bit because its in reruns on the local MeTV affiliate. I remember watching it in syndication as a kid but as an adult I’m struck by just how strange the fact that it got made is.)

      • Yes, Klink had moments of humanity and awareness. He is totally not a Trump like figure.

        On this topic of historical avatars and stereotypes my daughter just sent me a description of a spanish film about losing the philippines to the US.

        It really had everything.  The brave captain who saves his last cigars to give to the soldiers at christmas, the military doctor who just wants to study plants, the comic relief fat soldier who only wants to look at pictures of women, the traitorous Filipino bar tender (in yellow face naturally, with his hair slicked down to make him look vaguely asian), the beautiful Filipino maiden (also yellow face with eyes made up) in love with a Spanish soldier who represents the true love of the Philippines for the Spanish, the creepy Filipino soldiers who lear at her and mistreat her.  It was so exactly what it was.  I mean Jesus Christ!
        It was funny in that one could guess every second of it before it happened.

        • Woodrowfan

          what’s the film> Is it available subtitled??

          • I don’t know. She’s in Cordoba right now. I’llask her next time we are texting.

            • Hogan
              • los

                Los últimos de Filipinas (1945)
                1h 39min | Drama, History, Romance | 10 May 1947 (Portugal)

                maybe produced by Portuguese company?
                (cast names look Spanish)

            • TEXTING?!!! *gasp*

        • Joe_JP

          not quite the John Sayles film Amigo

      • Joe_JP

        Hogan’s Heroes is a really weird show. I’ve been watching it quite a bit because its in reruns on the local MeTV affiliate.

        Yes, I get it via MeTV too. The black member of the team, somewhat coincidentally [?] like Uhura in charge of communications, is pretty notable for the 1960s. He’s the most serious of Hogan’s team and read one place he was in effect the second in command.

        The basic weird thing for me is the language issue where the whole team speaks German, well enough to pretend to be German officers etc. Without their accents exposing them. Of course, perhaps they were purposely picked for that, but still. Quite talented.

        • Kinchloe, I had a huge crush on him when I watched that show as a little girl. There’s an episode in which he beats a white german soldier at boxing–news which the germans suppress out of racism that reminds me of the 1936 olympics. He also starred in a brilliant African American film called “Nothing but a man.” He seems to have been a director, too. Fascinating guy.

          • Bill Murray

            I liked Kinch as a character, but could never figure how he could go on missions. Were their black Wehrmacht soldiers? I would have thought very few

            • Joe_JP

              A couple times at least there were opportunities for him to be out in the open, such as an African prince, but mostly he kept out of sight outside camp.

        • The Dark God of Time

          German, aside from the “och” sound produced in the throat, doesn’t require any sounds not used in English, but the grammar is the hardest part to master. IRL, anyone suspected of being an Allied spy would be interrogated in very complex German sentences that would be confusing to anyone who didn’t speak German as a native tongue.

          Also, up until WWI, German was spoken by immigrants and their descendants in America quite openly. Finding native speakers to teach them wouldn’t have been that hard to do back then.

          • los
          • bender

            The variety of regional accents in Germany might make it easier for a non-native speaker to pass. My brother, on junior year abroad, was asked by a German what part of Germany he was from.

      • JonH

        “I remember watching it in syndication as a kid but as an adult I’m struck by just how strange the fact that it got made is”

        Especially since many of the cast served in the US military in WW2, were refugees from Nazi Germany, and/or lost family in the camps, or had been in concentration camps themselves.

    • It wasn’t a prison camp, though. It was a prison center.

  • LeeEsq

    What I don’t miss is necessarily the technology but part of me thinks that we might have a better work life balance if the concept of office clothing still existed. During my kid or teen years, most offices still required people to dress up for work rather than dress casually or semi-casually. Some work places still requires this. I wonder if using dress to establish a firmer separation between work and not work time might be psychologically beneficially for people.

    • Woodrowfan

      you may have a point. I dress “business casual” for work, one of the few that still do. (Someone recently mistook a casually-dressing colleague of mine for a homeless person on campus!) When I get home it’s a casual shirt and jeans! of course I still work until 10 each night, but I am dressed more comfortably!

      Seriously, I do think you have a good point about work invading home life.

      • mmy

        I am old enough to have worked under those dress codes and they worked 1) to force women to spend an inordinate amount of our pay cheques on acceptable clothing and 2) to enforce gender norms through clothing.

        In other words I don’t recall with fondness having to wear panty hose on stiflingly hot days. I don’t recall with fondness having to buy clothes I didn’t like but which fit the parameters of the office where I worked. I didn’t like having to wear caridgans over my summer clothes inside the the office or else freeze in the air conditioning (which was set for the comfort of men wearing suits).

        • Woodrowfan

          How much of that still applies? I strongly suspect it varies from workplace to workplace. (an acquaintance at a big law-firm in DC wears expensive business woman’s suits to work. But with her paycheck she can afford it. My wife dresses for her office (a federal agency) but I don’t remember the last time she wore panty hose. The female profs at my university tend to dress better than the male profs.

          • My experience at a college where I used to work was the exact opposite. The range of acceptable clothing for women was much broader than for the men, which was shirt, tie, and slacks, or a suit. I remember many times sweating my ass off in the summer wishing I could get away with the male equivalent of a nice blouse :-)

          • The female profs have to dress better than the male profs, and its quite expensive to do it. What reads as “too important to care” in men reads as “low class, probably cleaning lady” in older women.

            • Woodrowfan

              true. Of course the profs in the fashion department dress well anyway. Many of the female profs also dress causally, but (as you noted) it’s a nicer casual than some of the men get away with.

          • NewishLawyer

            I think the East Coast and Midwest are probably still a lot more formal than the Mountain West and West Coast.

            The only times I see people were suits on the West Coast are:

            1. Lawyers in Court;

            2. Going to a fancy event;

            3. Sales people at fancy department stores like Neiman Marcus and Barney’s.

            I’ve had law firms in SF be okay with me wearing sneakers and jeans and a t-shirt as long as I was Court ready with a suit in the office. A lot of firms in the East Coast and Midwest are still suit and tie all the time.

            Though my first job had jeans Friday and had to impose it by revolt from bellow because the managing partner hated it.

            • Crusty

              I think most (many?) traditional East Coast employers (what I really mean is the law firms I’ve worked at) have gone back to suits Monday through thursday, business casual on Friday.

              I recall back when the east coast succumbed to casual all the time to try to be like Silicon Valley startups, but as a litigator I needed to have a suit ready to go if necessary. It was a giant pain in the ass. It wasn’t as simple as just having a suit hanging on the back of the door. There are different shirts, accessories, shoes, etc., that go with the suit.

              • Srsly Dad Y

                I remember an older litigator telling me about the days before widespread (or good?) air conditioning in DC. He claimed that in the summer, “We used to have one suit jacket in the office, medium size, that anyone could wear if he got called into court.” Well, you guys were massive dorks then.

                • los

                  one suit jacket in the office, medium size, that anyone could wear if he got called into court

                  that’s an unusual way to filter job applicants
                  not very EOE
                  :-)

          • los

            expensive business woman’s suits

            “powersuit!”

            (also drycleaning expenses)

        • Dennis Orphen

          A good friend was the maintenence supervisor of a large office building directly across the street from the state capitol building. He was constantly trapped between the complaints of the men, who were two warm (2 and 3 piece suits) and the women (freezing in their skimpy clothes).

        • LeeEsq

          Suits, dress shirts, shoes, ties, and socks are not exactly cheap and get very uncomfortable on hot summer days to. Even in suits designed for summer wear will end up causing you to sweat a lot.

          • nixnutz

            One of the main things, top three maybe, that I miss about San Francisco is that you could wear wool comfortably all year.

            I remember when casual Fridays came in, or when I experienced it for the first time, and it was kind of a pain in the ass. I had already bought a few suits, on my days off I wore jeans and t-shirts, I didn’t relish the opportunity to buy a bunch of khakis and polo shirts. Work casual does save money on dry cleaning but it’s not an area where I’m really comfortable.

            Although I really have no idea what it means for women, at least outside of the few places women still wear suits regularly I couldn’t tell the difference between business formal and business casual. I do know they have to spend more and put a lot more work and thought into it, and pay a whopping tax at the dry cleaners for no good reason. I’m sure for some the larger range of choice is nice but I would hate it, I’d be glad to go back to a suit and tie so I don’t have to spend any time thinking about my work wardrobe.

            • Dennis Orphen

              You might enjoy watching Peaky Blinders for the tweediness alone.

            • NewishLawyer

              The converse of this is that there are very few times when you can wear linen or just a t-shirt and jeans.

              But SF famously has the one season known as SpringFall.

              • nixnutz

                And sometimes on sunny days I’d walk down Delores Street (the Mission being generally the warmest and sunniest district) and have to repeatedly put on and remove my jacket as I went into and out of shade.

      • rea

        I once visited the state law library (then in the same building as the state supreme court) casually dressed and was asked by a justice to clean the bathroom.

        • los

          casually dressed and was asked by a justice to clean the bathroom

          didn’t maintenance and janitorial wear a uniform?

    • What I don’t miss is necessarily the technology but part of me thinks that we might have a better work life balance if the concept of office clothing still existed.

      Not just clothing, but time. Young(er) people don’t seem to have a clear barrier between ‘office time’ and ‘home time.’ Perhaps they can deal with that, but I personally need to have a clear separation between the two.

      • When the older generation gives people in my age bracket an actual chance at working at a livable wage, then we can have a nice conversation about appropriate work wear.

        The one year I worked in a woman-run business in the finance industry was pretty good though. The month of August was “dress for your day”, meaning if you didn’t have to meet with a client you could wear shorts to work. But also, people got paid enough to put their paychecks into their wardrobe.

        • The one year I worked in a woman-run business in the finance industry was pretty good though. The month of August was “dress for your day”, meaning if you didn’t have to meet with a client you could wear shorts to work. But also, people got paid enough to put their paychecks into their wardrobe.

          Sounds like a good policy to me!

      • wjts

        Yeah, I think the real problem is the idea that employees should be expected to respond to calls or emails at any time because they always have a phone with them, not dress codes.

        • Crusty

          Most definitely.

          I’ve discussed this with friends- some take the view that the smartphone allows them to leave the office. I’m of the view that it means you’re never gone, even when you are. Its really a mental thing you have to master.

          • LeeEsq

            I hate working from home for the same reason.

        • MAJeff

          Yes!

          I actually refuse to check my email after I leave the office for the day/week, and I won’t install it on my phone.

          Work duties may sometimes invade my home space, which I’m generally ok with given the portability of academic work, but I also insist on time that my employer does not have access to. I am not available 24-7, and I refuse to be.

          I also refuse to give students my cell number. Hell, no, you may not text me!

          • rhino

            In plumbing school, one of the best instructors set up a Facebook page for his class. That way he had a method by which students could contact him and ask questions without being able to interrupt his private life. He would just check the page periodically, and answer questions as appropriate on his own schedule and convenience.

            All of his students found it super useful, in fact we continued using the page for a year or so (until he retired) as a way to ask code questions while at work. I can recall a couple of puzzles that got solved largely because of that Facebook page.

            Nowadays I use a reddit sub called ‘r/plumbing’ for the same purpose. it’s about half posts from plumbers, half from civilians looking for advice. It’s saved my ass a couple of times.

            Modern tech is really awesome, in a lot of ways.

            • LeeEsq

              Dear instructor, I accidentally opened up one of the springs that God used to cause the Flood. Please help.

              • los

                “Better Call Moses[1]”
                ?
                __________
                1. with da hoses

        • NewishLawyer

          True but I think it is a message that a lot of people take on early. I’ve been hearing people describe themselves as “work hard, play hard*” since I was a freshman in college. Most of these people end up climbing the corporate hierarchy very well.

          I stay late at work and work on the weekends and can stay up for deadlines but some people just seem able to do the come in early and stay really late thing consistently. I’ve seen dumb mistakes happen because of a lack of sleep but it seems like a Sisyphean task to convince people that “The silly mistake you just made is because you aren’t getting enough sleep.”

          *Work hard, play hard seems to mean that you work long hours and then go to loud bars or clubbing as your play time along with lots of drinking and possibly other substances ingested or you do serious gyming and sportsing at 9 at night.

          • Srsly Dad Y

            I’m a big believer in, “On a regular basis, you can do five days of work in five days, or four and a half days of work in six days.”

          • los

            work hard, play hard

            your phone needs The Mullet app.

          • los

            you do serious gyming and sportsing at 9 at night.

            Mar-a-Kegger

      • veleda_k

        That could be because our (largely older bosses) expect us to be on call every second of the day.

        • That’s because the old’uns see the young’uns on their phones all day and think they’ll be on them all night too :-)

          • veleda_k

            A pretty exploitative assumption.

            • Origami Isopod

              But none too surprising, really.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Slightly OT, but AbFab is one of those pieces of culture I just don’t get. Large numbers of people whose taste in things I usually share love it, so I assume that I’m the problem here. But I find it completely unfunny.

    • wjts

      You’re not alone.

      • Woodrowfan

        same here. But then, I thought Seinfeld was unfunny as well. I thought all four main characters were total jerks.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Agreed on the jerks thing. If I don’t want people like that in my life, why would I want them in my living room? Same with The Office, and that’s like being at a crappy job too.

          • Adam The K

            If I don’t want people like that in my life, why would I want them in my living room?

            Different strokes for different folks of course, but isn’t one man’s jerk another another man’s antihero? I certainly wouldn’t want to have Al Swearengen or David Brent in my life but that doesn’t stop them from being compelling characters to watch.

            • Dennis Orphen

              You hoople heads just have to go muddying the waters, don’t you?

            • This is one of the big differences between American and British TV. The evolution of the David Brent character is a great illustration. Ricky Gervais was integral to the development of both.

              The British generally don’t need heroes in their comedy. Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, etc all did very well. AbFab I believe was the first successful comedy to let women be antiheroes.

              • Right–Patsy is an antihero of amazing proportions for a woman. And especially for a beautiful woman. I love to see her vulgarity, her pratfalls and her fuck you attitude towards everything. What might be ho-hum in a male character is ground breaking for Joanna Lumley. And ditto for Jennifer Saunders character. They are selfish in a way that few women are allowed to be selfish without being the villains of the story set over and against the innocent heroes and heroines. But in abfab the monsters of selfishness and absurdity are the heroines. We root for them even as we cringe at their awfulness–both were treated horribly by their parents, their schools, and their lives and responded by becoming monsters. The backstory is there, if you look for it.

                • Well said!

                • Origami Isopod

                  Exactly.

                  Whereas here in the States, when Orphan Black premiered, some dickhead of a reviewer wrung his hands about how “unlikeable” the main character was. Doubt he’d have done that about a male lead.

              • LeeEsq

                I think that this is because British TV shows tend to last a shorter period of time. When you are only spending a few episodes with characters, you don’t need to like them. When you are spending many years with them, you need to like them. Long lasting British shows tend to have much more likeable characters.

    • Dennis Orphen

      That’s how I feel about Seinfeld. I think Seinfeld’s merits are that it shows how more people really began living since the development of the TV sitcom in the 50s, single, childless and urban. Same for Friends (which do I find more entertaining than Seinfeld, although both shows certainly have their merits).

      • LeeEsq

        Didn’t the Mary Tyler More Show, Cheers, Rhoda, and other sitcoms of the seventies and eighties deal with many single, urban characters?

        • Dennis Orphen

          Yes, and they were quite notable for that at the time, as you know. Then the reactionary 1980’s came along……..

          • LeeEsq

            Or most Baby Boomers had kids by that point and their tastes changed now that they had families.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      (For the record, I love Seinfeld.)

      • los

        I love Seinfeld

        Oh, oh. That’s not how plea-bargaining works.

        :-)

    • I watched AbFab while nursing my first child. I found it, and still find it, incredibly funny. My husband and I often shout “Bubble, I’m here!” on our phones as we are walking into the house, in memory of Jennifer Saunders doing so with her personal assistant. The humor is very british (and very seinfelidian) in that there is no hugging, growing, or learning for these characters. They are trapped in their awful selfishness–even the daughter, Saffy, who in an american sit com would be the viewer’s surrogate/a good person is awful in her own way.

      • kvs

        Yeah, it’s definitely a brand of comedy about laughing at awful people being awful. It’s intellectual, rather than emotional comedy. If there was anything significantly sympathetic or empathetic, it would get in the way of laughter because instead of thinking about how funny the characters and situations are, we’d be feeling how awful all of it is.

        That arguably makes it conservative humor. If we can laugh at those things, we don’t have to change them.

        Chris Rock having the opposite effect by deliberately making the audience uncomfortable at the Oscars shows how it all works.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Funny thing is that, unlike some others in this subthread, I generally like that brand of comedy. I love Fawlty Towers, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margret, The Office, Seinfeld, Arrested Development, and so forth. So I generally enjoy watching awful people being being awful,for laughs.

        • Origami Isopod

          That arguably makes it conservative humor. If we can laugh at those things, we don’t have to change them.

          Except, you know, the context is that it’s a pair of women being awful, and funny. Which you almost never see on U.S. TV, because women are the moral guardians of the species.

          Anyway, I don’t need all my entertainment to teach me a lesson. AbFab didn’t have Very Special Episodes, and I liked that about it.

          • kvs

            Small c conservative not big C Conservative.

            And it’s certainly possible to be transgressive in some ways while overall supporting the status quo.

      • njorl

        “Bubble, I’m here!”

        Yes, it’s important to get Bubble’s name right (no “s” at the end). Anybody can be named “Bubbles”.

        • You are correct. I did get her name wrong.

          • Dennis Orphen

            Don’t feel bad. Round these parts, Bubbles is a character from The Wire.

            • njorl

              Now I’m mentally swapping the two…

    • LeeEsq

      Same here. I never found Ab Fab funny and or easy to look at visually.

    • wca

      Large numbers of people whose taste in things I usually share love it, so I assume that I’m the problem here. But I find it completely unfunny.

      Like someone else said, it’s tedious to watch for the same reasons Seinfeld and The Office are. There’s only so much watching of self-absorbed asses that one can reasonably be expected to do.

      It’s the same reason I can’t watch “reality” shows…

      • nixnutz

        I loved Seinfeld, I love You’re the Worst, Broad City, Peep Show, pretty sure I’d like Always Sunny, I also liked Jennifer Saunders in French & Saunders. I don’t really know why AbFab didn’t work for me, maybe the tone, maybe just the writing, maybe I couldn’t relate to the characters when I was younger. But it wasn’t that it was a sitcom about awful people, I love those.

        • LeeEsq

          It could be the production values. It was less polished than Seinfeld in appearance.

          • Mr_Neutron

            To me a show like AbFab tends to be much easier on the eyes than Seinfeld. British TV tends to film far more on location, so you have fewer studio bound scenes. And even when a scene is shot on a set, it tends to look more real and less garish than one in a 90s American sitcom.

            Absolutely Fabulous is a wonderful character study of ludicrously privileged people living in a bubble of suffocating self-absorption. The later seasons are much less funny than the first three, but in its prime the show was a razor-sharp satire on 60s/babyboomer nostalgia and the 90s media scene. My choice for the best episode is “Death”—I’ll never hear the phrase “but is it art?” again without giggling.

        • Ronan

          I didn’t like a lot of that eras English comedy for some reason ; the fast show, red dwarf, birds of a feather, anything with rick mayall , only fools and horses etc. I like some of the stuff out of England now a bit more, but still think it’s mostly overrated(the office certainly. Peep show was genuinely hilarious for the first few seasons)
          On the other Hand I generally liked “comparable” shows out of the US. I think lee might be right it’s partly production values (and the fact English comedy was generally depressing as hell.)

          • wjts

            I loved Red Dwarf when I was in high school and college. Going back to it a few years ago, it didn’t hold up all that well. And as for Rik Mayall, I was the only one in my group of friends who thought The Young Ones was at best fitfully amusing rather than an outright masterpiece.

            • Dennis Orphen

              Back in my day, MTV aired The Young Ones on Sunday nights so it dovetailed nicely with slowing our rolls if nothing else. Then you watched Dr. Who on WTTW (Chicago’s analog channel 11).

        • Origami Isopod

          I haven’t watched much TV in recent years, but I really liked AbFab while I disliked Seinfeld. There was a smug “Aren’t we clever” vibe to the latter that, in addition to the grating personalities, turned me off. Whereas Eddie and Patsy were unapologetic messes who gave no fucks.

        • TopsyJane

          Seinfeld maintained an incredibly high level of quality for almost a decade and it went out at the top of the ratings, although not at the peak of its quality. Latterly the characters did get more tiresome than they were intended to be and the shows seemed to be much more alike, but it was still a fine show. I wasn’t a huge fan at the time, but Seinfeld has shown incredible staying power and deservedly so.

          I could only take AbFab in small doses, but it was nice of them to choose the great “This Wheel’s on Fire” for a theme song, which sent much-needed royalties to the late Rick Danko, who co-wrote the song with Whatshisface.

    • NewishLawyer

      Yep. And I sympathized with the nerdy daughter.

    • Ronan

      Agreed.

  • cleek

    we just finished our second run through The Tudors.

    it made me wish we had no indoor plumbing, safe drinking water, vaccines or antibiotics.

    • You mean right now? Like: it made you long for death?

      • LeeEsq

        I wouldn’t like to live in the past full time but if they ever develop time travel, I think bumming around in the early 1890s would be fascinating. Against all my better instincts and knowledge, I have a strange fascination for the 1890s.

        • Woodrowfan

          I tell my students that. As a historian I would dearly LOVE to visit the 1910s. Catch a vaudeville show, see one of the lost silents, visit Coney Island, go see the Reds play, visit a saloon, etc. But there is no way I am living anywhere without modern flush toilets, antibiotics, and air conditioning.

          • wca

            But there is no way I am living anywhere without modern flush toilets, antibiotics, and air conditioning.

            When I was very young, I asked my grandmother if she ever longed for the “good old days” when she was a kid. “Hell, no!” she said. The reason was that living in the South with no air conditioning or indoor plumbing was terrible.

          • LeeEsq

            Ride the early subway.

          • bender

            1905-1915 is my utter favorite for architecture, women’s clothing, art and the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Science and classical music were pretty interesting. Awful racial ideas, prudish, almost as busy driving animals to extinction as now and very bad medical care if you were a woman. Visit, not live there. I am glad that so much of their material culture and thought is still around.

        • The Dark God of Time

          Cedric Hardwick said he’d be glad to relive the Victorian Era, but with antibiotics. For his generation and my grandparents’ generation they were truly miracle drugs.

        • JonH

          There’s a place in Denmark where you can experience life in a paleolithic village. At the end of the week someone gets sacrificed to the bog.

          The BBC’s Mel Giedroyc (of the Great British Bake-Off) spent a week there with a British family. It’s kind of creepy hearing English children talking about how they are excited for the sacrifice.

          (Radio program, streamable from anywhere.)
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017mv1r

  • keta

    Pfft. Television as a technology is ridiculous.

    Give me the days when a young man was sent to Abyssinia with nothing more than a supply of cleft sticks.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    I always laugh when a show comes on where they’re using a mobile phone about the size of a brick.

    • I”m binge watching Grey’s Anatomy to avoid doing work right now and in the early stages of the show they all have beepers and those tiny little phones that don’t let you text. By this season everyone has smart phones and tracking other people, and contacting other people, has become more of a focus of some of the plot lines. One of the things that has really seamlessly integrated into our lives is the ability to google information, even high level medical information, at the tap of a finger. It makes “not knowing X” harder for people to turn a plot around.

      I just had a three D dental x ray and I commented on the mental foramen which is the hole that runs through the jaw. The dentist gave me a description of what it was and what it was for but did not know why it was called the mental foramen. We ended up standing over his computer (I nearly pulled out my phone but felt it would be rude to check his work) and googling the term. Turns out its a ridiculous neologism–Latin for chin is mentum and a backformation turns mentum into mental like a back formation turns dentum into dental.

      • wjts

        Learning anatomy becomes four or five times easier once you master the Greek and Latin etymologies. I’m surprised no one explained it to him earlier.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Years ago taught a course in precisely this, for nursing students, pre-meds, public health majors, etc.

          Only book on the reading list was Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary.

          Lots of fun. I went to the clinic at the university with an rash of unknown origin, all over the place. They ran tests on me and told me ‘It’s ideopathic atopic dermatitis.’ I told them ‘I hope those tests weren’t too expensive, but I teach Greek, and I’d have told you that yesterday for free’.

          • rhino

            The main point of medical language was originally to fool the patient into believing the doctors knew what was going on. It’s less true since medicine became more scientific, but literature is full of doctors speaking medicalese simply to impress patients for a reason.

            • Hogan

              “Iatrogenic” being the classic example.

              • Davis X. Machina

                Don’t forget ‘nosocomial

                The number of ways to say “We fucked up” in Greek is stunning.

            • Origami Isopod

              My understanding was that they adopted Latin and Greek terminology for the same reason Linnaeus did for his taxonomy: it could be understood by educated people across Europe, regardless of their native tongues. I don’t doubt that impressing the patient was a motive, but my guess is that it was secondary.

      • kvs

        It’s amazing how knowing how to find things has increased in relative importance compared to knowing things.

        • Dennis Orphen

          And knowing what to look for, what the right questions to ask are.

          • rhino

            I tell my plumbing apprentices not to try and memorize the code book and the plans, but rather to load both onto their iPhone, and to look shit up when they need it.

            At least once a day, I find myself on a manufacturers website looking at an exploded view of something I have never installed, or finding the dimensions of something so the rough-in is correct the first time.

            I would imagine I’ve saved hundreds of hours of rework by now… Yet the foreman still likes to yell at anyone with their phone out at work, presumably because the only thing we could possibly be doing is texting our friends or looking at porn. I’ve taken to emailing him links and/or screenshots of the stuff we look up ‘so he has access to the info we used to make the decision and can comment if he needs to’. Shuts *some* of it up.

        • Hogan

          We are all librarians now.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      anyone else remember back in the 70s when William Conrad was “Cannon”? Quinn Martin Productions must have had a sweet deal with Ford, because they always drove huge freaking Mercurys, etc. Cannon had a LTD with a car phone on the seat beside him that looked just like our black Bell dial telephone. Very cutting edge

      the only other thing I remember about Cannon was a fight scene on a beach where Cannon subdues one of the bad guys, and just as he sticks said baddie’s handgun in his waistband another gun is fired off-camera. It seemed like such an obvious joke to a seven year old that I still wonder how it got on the air

      • The Dark God of Time

        Quinn Martin had previously produced The FBI TeeVee show, whose dependence on Ford vehicles was famously satirized in Mad Magazine.

        Even earlier, Paul Drake in the Perry Mason show had a car telephone, which used ship-to-shore technology IIRC.

  • Davis X. Machina

    My wife and I have a game dating various Law and Order franchise episodes based on the phones — either for evidence, or to call someone, or finally with texting as an issue.

    There’s a clear progression from trying to find a payphone, to candy bars, to flip-phones, to the more contemporary ones.

    Also toll-transponder records.

  • osceola

    I watch Rockford Files reruns when I can. In one episode, he’s talking with a big shot lawyer, and you can tell he’s important because he’s got a pager on his belt that’s about a five-inch box. (Late’70s when pagers first came out and were a big deal.)

    And then, of course, the opening of the show when his answering machine is featured. Those messages were part of the show’s humor.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Fargas is the De Niro of the counterculture, Margolin the Olivier.

    • wjts

      A recent bar trivia “Name That Tune” round used The Rockford Files theme for a question. We missed it, but in our defense they left off the answering machine message.

    • Joe_JP

      It’s weird to see some technology on certain shows like car phones and a primitive tv remote control device (both in the 1960s) that today seems anachronisms.

      And, people being able in a minute to get information online. Those old shows where we get a little review of the information on such and such a person … which in the past would be pretty hard to get with photos and all … is a lot easier today especially with cell phone cameras etc.

      • osceola

        I remember a Hawaii Five-O (the original: Jack Lord, accept no substitutes) in which a fax was hyped as the latest crimefighting technology because they could get a mug shot from another state in 15 minutes.

      • John F

        The X-Files was the first show I recall watching where characters used cell phones ALL THE TIME, and if you watch re-runs- they didn’t use them all that much and the phones look cartoonishly large.

        Also there is a scene in 2001 (filmed in 1969) that had tablet computers… (props not actual working tablet computers but still)

  • swkellogg

    I really miss the older time machines like the ones used in “The Time Tunnel” (which were all destroyed during the Nixon administration). The new ones are shoddily made, break down all the time and getting parts aftermarket is virtually impossible.

    • wjts

      It’s kind of astonishing that in the late 1960s time machines took up an entire room but only 15 years later they were small enough to fit in your pocket.

      • swkellogg

        Well yeah, they are a lot more compact, no small thanks to the reduction of interocitor size through increased use of solid-state technology. Still, sometimes smaller isn’t better. I find the devices that rely on older, bulkier vacuum/gas-discharge tubes make for a smoother negative time dilating experience (particularly when the krytrons are connected in series rather than parallel). Contrast that with the greater tendency to experience cross-dimensional interference, due to rectification by low-voltage diode junctions or slew-rate effects that one frequently endures in the transistorized models and I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.

        I mean, really, who wants to be chased by a ravenous, drooling t-rex, when all you really wanted to do was burn one with neanderthals?

        • Dennis Orphen

          You don’t need a time machine to burn one with Neanderthals, at least not here in NorCal.

          • The Dark God of Time

            Or in the Gateway to the Gateway to the Sequoias.

            • Dennis Orphen

              I’m writing this comment from Auburn, where I happen to be today. Are we close?

              • The Dark God of Time

                I’m an hour due north of Bakersfield. Not. Even.

        • John Revolta

          Well, they’re bigger on the inside than they are on the outside

  • veleda_k

    When I see people blaming smart phones for all our woes I end up thinking, “Blah blah blah technology is bad, fire is scary, and Thomas Edison was a witch.” Maybe other people hate having a map of the city in their pocket that will give them step by step instructions on how to get to that job interview on time, or being able to call for help stranded in an area with nary a pay phone in sight, but I sure don’t. (And I didn’t get a cell phone until four years ago, way after everyone else had one. I had weird notions of self-sufficiency.)

    Also, the youth of today! They are not like the youth of my time! What’s up with that!

    • osceola

      I didn’t get a cell phone until four years ago, way after everyone else had one.

      Not so fast there. I’m still a holdout.

      • I wish I could post images but there’s a great XKCD cartoon about a checklist for any new technology.

        “Will teens use [blank] for sex? Yes.

        Were they going to have sex anyway? Yes.”

        That”blank” works great with automobiles and cell phones.

        https://xkcd.com/1289/

        • Dennis Orphen

          Then you get to a point where the teens and the ‘adults’ they might become can’t do ‘blank’ without ‘blank’ and the reverse Darwinism starts going full Kornbluth.

        • If you know anything about history you can even fill in the blank with words like “literacy.”

          Will teens use literacy for sex? Yes

          • Dennis Orphen

            I don’t claim to be an A student, but what a wonderful world that would be.

            • No joke, a good portion of what I learned about human sexuality as a junior in high school came from IB English. This was in South Florida and our teachers put a lot of Latin American literature on our reading list. So in one semester I read House of the Spirits and Like Water for Chocolate and my mother was scandalized.

              So yes, literacy was definitely a part of sex for Miami IB students!

              • Dennis Orphen

                Around 7th grade, I began to twig that something was up with the concept of ‘sex’. So, I went to the room in the house where all the books were shelved, pulled the ‘S’ volume of the encylopedia off the shelf, and read the entry for ‘sex’. In about 7 minutes I knew more about the mechanical and reproductive aspects of the subject than far too many people ever learn in their entire lifetime, often (if not always) to their frustration, anger, chagrin and regret.

                A few years later, when it was time for my parents to give me ‘the talk’, I told them exactly what I just wrote above. We looked at each other, exchanged that era’s equivalents of bro nods and ‘we’re goods!’ and that was that.

                So, I can totally relate the the comments about plumbers using cel phones and the like.

          • The Dark God of Time

            But the thing that really concerned men was the fact that women were using bicycles just as much as they were. While most moral prognosticators could just about deal with guys taking to this new, slightly risque hobby, women doing it was too much for some people.

            Doctors in particular were very concerned. Even the ones who acknowledged that some exercise was good for ladies made it clear that there were strict limitations on what they could safely do on a bike. Obviously, they would need a man to go with them for protection. They should never travel too far or put any strain on their bodies, or else they might end up with “bicycle face,” a tired, haggard look that made them much less attractive to potential husbands. Clearly, cycling while pregnant was out, and while menstruating, and just to be safe all women should have a gynecological exam before getting on a bike for the first time. One doctor was sure that thousands of women were actually allowing themselves to get to the verge of death due to cycling-related health issues, simply because women refused to talk to doctors in case their beloved bikes were taken away.

            http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-stupid-moral-panics-caused-by-everyday-objects/

            • Srsly Dad Y

              Oh don’t get me started. “Talk to your doctor” is usually the biggest load of BS. Try giving your doctor a simple statistics test.

  • CHD

    Douglas Adams absolutely nailed the direction of technology in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not only the Guide itself… everytime I am on an automated phone system, I think of Real People Personalities (installed in doors by Cirius Cybenetics Corporation).
    Also go read the series of essays Adams wrote, published posthumously in The Salmon of Doubt. He predicted the ubiquity and usefulness of smartphones way before it happened, and I might add, without predicting anything that​ didn’t happen. (If you make enough bizarre predictions one of them is bound to come true; it’s much harder to make only accurate predictions.)

    • I LOVE Douglas Adams. I’ve visited his grave here in London.

    • The Dark God of Time

      Ray Bradbury wrote a story in the 50s that predicted cell phones and the iPod.

      • Dennis Orphen

        You couldn’t change the memory cards or easily replace the batteries in his conception?

        • The Dark God of Time

          The protagonists’ method of powering them down wouldn’t have been recommended by the manufacturer, they apparently had no on-off switch.

          • Dennis Orphen

            I didn’t so much forget that as repressed it subconciously because of the traumatic experiences with that ‘feature’ to use the term loosely.

      • John F

        Murray Leinster wrote a story in the 40s that predicted the internet.

        • wjts

          Alexis de Toqueville predicted that the U.S. and Russia would one day be the world’s great powers.

        • The Dark God of Time

          “A Logic Named Joe.”

        • bender

          E. M. Forster wrote a story in 1909 that predicted the Internet.

  • Crusty

    It seemed like there was a period in the early 2000’s or maybe even late 90’s where movie studios tried to make some computer based thrillers and the climactic final scene might involve someone typing on a keyboard and praying something finishes downloading to a disc, or uploading to the internet, as the bad guys tried to break down the door, kill the power or wipe the hard drive or something like that. It never quite worked. That sort of thing seems to have gotten better as computers have become more seamlessly integrated into our lives.

  • Dagmar

    I remember in the late 70s and in the 80s when computer technology developments were touted as “labor-saving”, giving all us worker bees shorter work days and more leisure time.

    • Dennis Orphen

      It does for me. The same hammer that can smash your fingers can drive nails without smashing fingers.

      • Ahuitzotl

        I’ve heard that, but never experienced it

    • Origami Isopod

      As always, it’s not a technology problem. It’s a labor-rights problem.

  • Dennis Orphen

    This comment is being written by typing on a supposedly obsolete Palm Pilot branded bluetooth folding keyboard paired to an android phone. It’s the best bluetooth portable keyboard I’ve ever used, and it cost me almost nothing because ‘Palm Pilots are obsolete’ supposedly.

    It even had a pull-out stand to lean the palm pilot on which also works for a phone. When I use it in public, say at a coffee shop, people come over and comment on how cool it is.

    • Vintage is hip.

      • Dennis Orphen

        Gathering that you live in London, and in response to your comment about paychecks and wardrobe, i was going to reply with something about how you came along too late for Biba.

        • Just googled it. Yep, I’m a bit late for that. But something for me to look out for at all the vintage fairs I go to in London.

      • wjts

        No shit. Gotta go to bed early tonight so I can get up at 4:00 AM to stand in line for Record Store Day tomorrow.

        • If I had the space and money to collect vinyl, I would. Hell, I’d even own a gramophone. I am obsessed with all kinds of vintage items, I just can’t justify purchasing them all.

          I half-joke that my dream car is the kind you have to get out and wind up and then strap on some aviator goggles for.

          • Ahuitzotl

            Well, now you’ve made the bigtime, writing for LGM, you can probably afford a 1911 Bugatti

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