[LMB] OT: Mixed blessings, was SF for various generations

Paula Lieberman paal at filker.org
Mon Dec 28 23:22:18 GMT 2015

The American Museum of Textile History has some old factory machines... the 
spinning jennies were VERY noisy, and people could got injured/crippled/even 
died when equipment malfunctions occurred

The factories sometimes caught fire  with horrible consequences--Triangle 
Shirt was not the only catastrophic fire, and not the only factory that the 
workers couldn't get out past locked/blocked/chained shut doors and windows.

Lanolin-soaked wooden flooring  and beams were combustion hazards, for 

The Bread and Roses strikes and riots started ironically from a Governor who 
was trying to improve work conditions, by mandating a shorter work week.  He 
failed to realize that cutting the work week without requiring a raise the 
hourly wages to keep worker income the same, was going to result in factory 
owners and operators cutting weekly wages while also demanding the workers 
produce the same amount of cloth in the shorter work week as they had been 
making in the longer work week.  The workers rebelled--they objected to the 
salary cuts and the more stressful work, their work conditions becoming more 
unsafe due to requirement to work faster, and a higher accident rate and 
more severe injury tending to result.

Low educational level jobs keep disappearing--agricultural robot which move 
plant around at nurseries are a reality.  They do a faster, more accurate 
and precise job of relocating and placing pots full of plants or balled root 
plants in rectilinear blocks, they don't bored, they don't get back 
injuries, they don't forget what the directions were or misunderstand what 
they were told to do (programming issues are a different issue).  Apparently 
the workers who don't get surplused like working with the robots, it means 
that they get to do work at the nurseries which is less tedious and more 
interesting/rewarding and less painfully repetitive/boring and back-hurting. 
But, it does cut the number of people needed to move plants around.

People and jobs get idiosyncratic--most people don't like having work they 
perceive as make work.  They tend to want careers which they think in some 
way are worthwhile to society or have some intrinsic value, and aren't 
pity-employment and such, or make work, or given to them out of charitable 

--Paula Lieberman
-----Original Message----- 
From: Aruvqan
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 01:40 PM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: Re: [LMB] SF for various generations

I know that if I were wealthy I would hire people for giving friends
jobs ranging from scanning and formatting ebooks from my backlog of
SF/Fantasy paperbacks, a personal secretary/companion because some
things are just funner with company like an impromptu afternoon movie
theater visit or run to a coffee shop to get out of the house. If I had
the money for it, the house I would have would have 8 bedroom suites, a
huge library, a huge country kitchen/living room and space for
handicrafts and storage, and would have an attached farm to raise much
of the food products consumed, a personal cook, a personal
physioterrorist and workout space ... I can really understand many of
the 'cottages' in Newport RI with the staffing of 50-100 people [though
a major part of that was because they didn't have the conveniences we
have now so it took 4 maids to do the laundry and bedroom
cleaning/maintenance and 25 groundskeepers. I would just graze sheep on
the damned lawn and be done with it =) ]

But I heartily agree that as jobs vanish thanks to industry
modifications,  people have to do *something*! The factory Rob works at
doing QA has manufacturing lines that are using fewer people because the
machinery now does it all. Though it does remind me of the now gone
family spinning mills - line after line of people feeding the raw wool
into machines, ending with people tending the spinning jennies [a job
frequently done by children and women traditionally, I should rummage
around and see if there were any pictures saved by my Dad that survived
their house fire.]

On 12/28/2015 10:14 AM, Paula Lieberman wrote:
> Servant jobs as conspicuous consumption historically have been -very- 
> common.  And I suspect they will be getting commoner--factories use fewer 
> and fewer people for higher and higher volume production  Conspicuous 
> consumption, however, brags about wealth, and people have done that 
> throughout history.
> --Paula Lieberman 

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