Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Aboard The Industrial Express!

I've noticed a curious thing happening since I started writing about industrial affairs on this blog. That is, it suddenly seems like everyone's getting aboard the Industrial Express in response.

I'm flattered, of course, in one sense. But it also makes the bristles on my back stand up, because it ticks me off a little. Because this is my thing, this is my arena, and it bugs me that everyone else is trying to horn in on my territory. I just have to keep it positive, though, and be flattered, I guess, if I want to keep up my good attitude. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," we've all heard that.

The thing is, I keep seeing things that are like take-offs of my blog, and I don't entirely know what to make of it. They might be mocking me in some way. Or maybe I've inspired them to be sincerely interested in the subject. Or it could be, like it was with me, they had a latent interest in industrialism which they didn't really know about until they read my blog, then they suddenly realized it.

The examples I can think of right now -- among the thousands I've encountered -- are, first, a book I saw in the bookstore the other day, called "The Industrial Revolutionaries." This is true. Some guy -- I'm assuming it was written by a man -- wrote up a whole history of some of the key individuals in the Industrial Revolution. Something of a history buff, he must be.

I came close to buying the book, except, as I've probably mentioned before, I prefer getting my books at Goodwill or garage sales, where they're under a buck apiece. The downside to that is they hardly ever have what you're looking for, or they're bestsellers from 20 years ago, or you have to look through a roomful of crap to find one good one.

I glanced at it at the full priced bookstore, then put it back. Because, frankly, I was a little perturbed to see it. This is a guy who must've had an agent already and just steamrolled it into print probably so fast it wasn't even fact-checked. Like the 9/11 books that were in the store the next week. And I think there was a steamy bio on Sammy Sosa put out fast the month he was popular.

I still might go and get it, if for no other reason than to see if he quotes me in it. I'm actually thinking he might not have quoted me, because he wouldn't want to show how beholden he was to any one source. It's just like we used to do when we wrote term papers in school. They'd say we needed 10 sources, so we'd write up the note cards and then use 10% of our quotes from each card. Even though, obviously, we could've written it more easily and quicker by just paraphrasing one author.

Another take-off of my blog I saw, and this was just last night, was at another popular blog, where one of the writers is writing about, of all things, "the end of the Industrial Age, the beginning of the Information Age, and why we shouldn't delude ourselves that we've made the transition." I quote his topic in toto because of the brash overstating of the case. We haven't come to the end of the Industrial Age!

If this guy likes "the Information Age," try this information on for size, this is just the beginning, bozo, clown, moron. Jeez!* I started a tire factory around two months ago and you're trying to tell me industry is no more? I have neighbors making disposable diapers, vats, straitjackets, and wheels for hospital beds -- and they're able to retool in one day to make air conditioners, fans, and sprinkler hoses -- neighbors of mine -- and you expect me to believe the Industrial Age is finished? The guy's deluded!

And the other thing I've suddenly noticed -- everyone climbing aboard the Industrial Express -- is the "Science Channel" on TV, suddenly showing factories making things. Anything you can think of. They have a lot of whizzbang automation lurching around, bolting things, spinning, accomplishing more work in a minute than a whole family can do in a day. It's disgusting on many levels. One for sure is, it tells our younger generation, "We could replace you with a machine in a heartbeat, so eat a donut and get obese, for all we care!"

They hardly ever show actual workers. And when they do, they're going about their task silently, almost like machines themselves. There's no talking, no looking up at the camera. They're drugged or something; they're in a daze, posing a danger to themselves and the other machines around them. I'm watching for signs of stumbling and staggering, listening when the camera's aimed the other way for a scream as they fall into the gears. Because even if you are drugged into silent submission, you still scream simply out of instinct when you fall and get crunched in the mechanism. But the TV people aren't dumb ... they've edited out the screams, or covered them with music.

I think there might be a couple of reasons for these shows suddenly appearing:

1) They're trying to dispirit the Residential Industrial Movement (RIM). Because we're relative newcomers to the industrial scene, starting new factories in our backyards. If we watch these shows with all their fancy machines doing everything, while the family's offstage, maybe in daycare, it might make us question our resolve to go on.

2) It could be propaganda from the major industrial powers, trying their level best to convince us that "all is well" in their world, that they're not the least bothered by competition. But if you watch the show very carefully, you'll notice the film's been edited. In my opinion, they probably filmed for 10 hours to get two minutes of footage, meaning all their failures are on the cutting-room floor. If you have a machine that skips its sprocket 99 out of 100 times, of course you're only going to show that one successful hit.

And so ... the Industrial Express rolls on. At this blog and around the world! But just remember, whatever it is, you'll get it here ... first!

*Sorry about the apparent invective. It's just internet-speak for "I respectfully disagree."

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