As I wrote my last post a number of thoughts came to me that weren’t completely relevant to the post but which I wanted to include somewhere. I’m going to try and bring them together in this post.
I think it’s a tremendous irony that in just 60 years the typewriter could go from a symbol of women’s liberation to one of oppression. From the nineteen teens through the 20s, the Underwood Typewriter was probably as great a force for liberating women as has ever been devised. It enabled women with ordinary educations and just a little training to hold jobs that enabled them to support themselves. Previous to that the only honorable jobs a woman could hold outside the home were teacher, nun, and nurse. By 1980 being clerk-typist had come to be considered demeaning. I think that exemplifies the differences between the First Wave feminists, interested in making the lives of ordinary women better, and the Third Wave feminists. I’m not sure what their interest has been but it’s pretty clear that they’re not particularly interested in ordinary working class women whose lives have frequently become much worse over the last 30 years, either trying to raise a family as single mothers or being expected to hold fulltime jobs while also being expected to be fulltime wives, mothers, and homemakers.
A “teamster” used to be someone who handled a team of horses or mules to haul loads. By 1920 the same men who had handled teams of horses were driving motorized trucks, represented by the same union. The skills required were very different but, since loading and unloading was generally the responsibility of the drivers, it still required big, burly men. Hauling the first load by motorized truck across the United States took place in 1912 and took 90 days. In the same period hauling a load across the country by railroad took four days.
Right now there’s a lot of hype about fully automated trucks. We already have them. They’re called “railroads”. IMO hauling loads on the regular public roads with fully automated trucks is far in the future if ever.
IMO American physicians’ greatest accomplishment has not been in the area of public health but organizational and political. They’ve managed to convince people that physicians educated in 1920 still had the skills to do their jobs in 1950, physicians educated in 1950 still had the skills to do their jobs in 1980, and physicians educated in 1980 still had the skills to do their jobs in 2010. When you reflect on it, what physicians did in 1920 resembles what they do today only superficially. Physicians of a century ago simply do not have the skills to practice medicine today and, in all likelihood, vice versa. Most of what they have in common is what they call themselves. Continuing education probably helped but it has its limits. I think that’s an issue that will only accelerate.