Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, March 29, 2012

In 1961

...futurists imagined that the milkman would have a robot "dobbin" that would follow him as he made his rounds.  Courtesy of Paleofuture.
What they did not imagine was that kids today would wonder, "What's a milkman?" 

When I was a kid, the milkman and the eggman both made home deliveries.  They came down from the farms on the hill or from the co-op.  (My mother also took us on weekly hikes to the corner grocery story, to Korte's meat market, to Thatcher's fish market, etc.  There was also a weekly farmers' market in Centre Square.)  The milkman is long gone now, and from a confluence of multiple factors:
  1. Reliable electrical refrigerators meant that frequent deliveries of fresh milk were no longer necessary.  
  2. The movement into the suburbs meant more travel time between houses, adding to the cost of home milk delivery
  3. So-called "super markets" combining grocery store, meat market, fish market, bakery, et al. into a single establishment made milk available on one's regular market trips.  
  4. Stan Schmidt writes of the convergence
    of multiple strands of techochange
  5. The personal automobile enabled housewives (yes, housewives) to make such market trips to the central super market and carry large amounts of food on each trip.  
Futurists often see tomorrow's technology as merely enabling or improving today's practices and customs.  Whatever we do today, we will be able to do faster, cheaper, better tomorrow.  But in fact, we will generally do something else entirely.  The confluence of multiple changes creates complex feedback loops and synergistic effects.  This is also what makes central planning a mug's game.  Imagine government planning in the 1950s for the future of the home milk delivery process! 


[O]ne of the games to which [the human race] is most attached is called … “Cheat the Prophet.”  The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation.  The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely.  Then they go and do something else.  That is all.  For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.
– G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill

2 comments:

  1. *little lightbulb* So... The Safeway food delivery service that is mostly focused on city folks is getting back to the roots?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember reading in the Free Press, perhaps around 1962, about the retirement of the last horse-drawn milk truck in the Detroit area. Trucks, I gathered, are a little easier to deal with than horses, but horses are much faster. The milkman could get together the deliveries for several houses and walk up the street with them, and the horse would follow. No need to go back to the truck waiting stupidly where it had been left.

    ReplyDelete

Whoa, What's This?

adam amateur theology Aquinas argument from motion Aristotelianism art atheism autumn of the modern ages books brains breaking news captive dreams cartoon charts chieftain clannafhloinn comix commentary counterattack crusades culcha dogheads easton stuff economics eifelheim evolution factoids on parade fake news fallen angels Feeders fir trees in lungs firestar flicks floods flynncestry flynnstuff forecasts forest of time fun facts gandersauce gimlet eye global warming glvwg headlines henchmen high frontier history home front how to lie with statistics humor hush-hush hypatia in the house of submission irish Iron Shirts irrationalism january dancer jihad journeyman kabuki kool letter lion's mouth lunacon maps mayerling medieval metrology miscellany modern mythology moose zombies music new years nexus odds odds and ends paleofuture passing of the modern age philosophy philosophy math poetry politics psyched out! public service quality quiet sun quote of the day razor's edge redefinition of marriage religio reviews river of stars scandal science science marches on scientism scrivening shipwrecks of time shroud skiffy skiffy in the news skools slipping masks some people will believe anything stats stories stranger things the auld curmudgeon the madness continues the new fascism the spiral arm the writing life thomism thread o' years tofspot topology untergang des abendlandes untergang des morgenlandes up jim river video clips vignettes war on science we get letters we're all gonna die whimsy words at play xmas you can't make this stuff up