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We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man...

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default We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man...

Post by Guest on 12th March 2010, 3:43 pm

"We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man you take something away from the man."
Ba'ku Star Trek Insurrection

Every time I see this film and hear this quote I believe it more. The film industry does seem to be the main way in which ideas are challenged and thoughts are provoked (although they them selves are made by machine)

So often I see it in people who used to take the time and learning to achieve something that is now casually done, cheaply and impersonally provided, and easily discarded. The "handmade" way seems to provide satisfaction and brings forward patience and deep understanding.

If we slow down we can live without so much but have so much more in other ways.

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Post by Adrian on 12th March 2010, 4:21 pm

Nicely put Zoe

I mostly agree, I think however that in many ways it comes down to how sustainable that tech really is. Like the old Steam engines, many still rolling, still chugging away, still doing the work that they were designed to do. Not like the many mobile phones that I have sadly had to have over the years that deteriorate and fail over time and are discarded.

Handmade appeals to me mostly, because I have certain talents and can usually turn my hand to most thins, its not for everyone though, I'm blessed with a large house and acreage, enough space and freedom to try new skill and crafts. Sadly not enough people have the space time and freedom these days to learn new things. This is why I have been so excited about Mastercrafts series. It shows that ordinary folk can enter a new craft, learn something they have never done, struggle to achieve, but ultimately succeed.

I just wish that education of the young was not so focused on academic learning and passing exams. If there had been a craft apprentaship scheme when I was a lad and I had known that I could have made a living as a mastercraftsman, then I would have never even bothered with A levels, let alone anything else.

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Post by Guest on 12th March 2010, 4:32 pm

But how many people don't realise they can make things...even if it is bread or knit baby's jumper, a wood platter or an indoor garden. I believe we all have skills and talents we just have to realise we are not sub-human and have to sit on the sofa and watch TV! facepalm

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default Re: We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man...

Post by Adrian on 12th March 2010, 4:49 pm

The very point Zoe.

I think the problem is that after WW2, peacetime brought so much prosperity and leisure time. People didn't want to make things, or make do and mend, or grow things. Thats what they had had to do in the war, when things were horrid. So they didn't and their kids didn't have skills passed down and so on until kids and teens now have no idea.

Now some of us, especially those of us born in the 60's and 70's were lucky enough to have missed out on that, not that many mind you, but there are enough of us to start teaching and pointing the way again when things get hard.

You see, my problem is that as far as I'm concerned is the system of Capitalism that is the problem. Capital has replaced land, the owners of that Capital (usually corporations) have replace the Aristocracy. We are forced to hand over our lifes labour for a living wage while the profits of that labour fill the pockets of the owner of the capital, who does no work. In turn, the corporation kneels before its shareholders, who definitely do nothing to earn that profit. The education system does no better, it could be seen as training for employment. Students have no power, little to no freedoms while in that education process. they are taught to be quiet, to work hard and to be rewarded. They go on to work where they are quiet, work hard and are rewarded with mind numbing TV pap and an unhealthy diet, they are encouraged to enslave themselves even more with debt to buy things they do not really want, but are persuded they need , they become little more than the pitiful Betas and gammas in Brave New World.

Look at how people like us are regarded, we are the eccentrics, the "back to the landers" the zealots, who want to regress. If you do not embrace the shiny and new, then you are not right.

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 12th March 2010, 4:58 pm

Although it is a little presumptuous to assume people use machines out of laziness to allow themselves more leisure time.
I have used several machines today to save time over doing the same jobs manually. I have made a loaf of bread with a bread machine rather than kneading it and baking it the traditional way; I surveyed a house this morning and used a laser measuring device with took my 5 minutes to do the measuring as opposed to perhaps an hour with measuring tapes; I used an electric drill to put up a shelf where I could have drilled the holes by hand, etc etc
I use these machines because I do not have the luxury of time to do things the manual way. I have children to look after and home educate during the day, I have a job I have to fit around doing this, and then all the usual stuff people do. It all gets done because I have labour saving devices.
If I had to bake bread by hand we would not be able to have fresh bread. If I didn't have a vacuum cleaner I would not be able to clean the house anywhere near as often. If I had to wash the clothes by hand it would take a day or so out of the week.
I can make pastry by hand. Of course I can. But If I whack it in the food processor it takes about 30 seconds, which means I can add a home-made apple pie to our supper in five minutes between doing other jobs. It beats all hell out of buying pastry in the shops and I can't taste the difference between pastry made in the machine or made by hand.
If I whack the pasta mangle on the Kitchenaid I can make home made pasta in about 10 minutes flat from start to finish. If I had to press and roll it all by hand we would have shopbought because I can't afford to take that time out of my day.
Most machines come about because the process is extremely time consuming and relies on the labour being near zero cost.
If I had Martha Stewarts legion of assistants and a battalion of sous-chefs beavering away under my command we could have everything handmade and I could probably watch telly or read some books in the evening as well. Until then my little robo helpers offer my many more choices in my life.

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Post by Adrian on 12th March 2010, 5:08 pm

Ah, now that aspect is not something I considered or had in mind when I wrote my polemic above

We need to differentiate between a machine that makes a person redundant, a time saving device and a tool that helps us do what we need to do.

Good point Billy

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default Re: We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man...

Post by Mike on 12th March 2010, 6:54 pm

What do you mean by a "machine"?

The work of a man throwing a rock at his fellow --- the machine being a contivance of some thongs and a pouch. The work of a man throwing a spear at his fellow -- the machine being a contrivance of a cleverly shaped stick or a more complicated device made of a properly shaped stick and a thong. The work of a man moving a rock -- the machine being a stout pole and a small rock.

I think we humans have been using "machines" for a long, long time. Recently (very recently viewed in that entire time scale) the machines evolved to use less and less muscle power to operate. The earliest steam engines were actually "steam powered amplifiers" as the valve mechanism was operated by hand and piston "followed". The we got to where just a finger on a button. It's only very recently that we have gotten to devices with "intelligent control".

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Post by Compostwoman on 12th March 2010, 7:15 pm

I think, myself, that gadgets which allow you to do things which would otherwise take a long time ( as Billy illustrated) have their place....

We could cut down the trees we are felling in the wood by hand, it would take Compostman and I a very long time to fell one tree, cut it up, snedd it, and then hand shred all the twiggy bits...and we probably wouldn't do it as we have other things to do..as it is by using a machine we can fuel our home and save carbon by making wood chip for paths, hen runs, compost etc...

so using a "machine" has had a beneficial effect, for a small amount of petrol ( I tried to work out the cost benefit analysis of the CO 2 we saved vs the petrol we used once.....but it got quite tricky to do so I gave up. )

I think most of us have a "feel" for where a machine becomes an indulgance or a waste ...

*I* wouldn't buy a yoghurt maker for example, a stainless vac flask works just as well for me...but I DO have a breadmaker, because it saves me time I then spend doing something else which *I* think is probably more effective use of my time...

And longevity is definately the key thing here...part of the problem is the throwaway, consumerist society in the western world.....

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Post by Guest on 12th March 2010, 8:42 pm

I think Badgers point does highlight that post war we are taught to be consumers and therefore feed the capitalist system.

But I think the original quote would be illustrated by Billy's ref to making pastry (not personal just an example) If the person made, say, short crust pastry a lot you would in fact rub the fat into the flour as quickly as the machine and you would have the knowledge of how greesy the fat was and how moist the flour. You would have the pleasure of brining the two together and adding in the air. It would be a satisfying creative activity...if you allowed yourself the pleasure.

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default Re: We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man...

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 12th March 2010, 9:27 pm

Zoe, I can't make shortcrust pastry in 30 seconds by hand.
I do make it by hand when I have no time constraints. I can judge pretty well by eye what the fat levels are, and vary accordingly whether I am using lard or duck fat or marge and lard or whatever. I can forego the tactile pleasure for the expediency of getting something else done at the same time and being able to produce a dish I otherwise wouldn't have time for.
On special occasions when I can put aside the time I make puff pastry by hand. Normally however I buy it readymade because it is an enormously time-consuming .
I can't think of many things I but ready made form a shop but this is a good example - I simply cannot justify the time it takes to make puff pastry on a regular basis. there are only so many hours in the day, so what do I offset to make the pastry? An hour of homeschool? An hour of work in the evening? Doing the laundry and hoovering? I could forego all recipes which involve puff but that would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.
I freely admit that we could eat more simply and I could save a modicum of time by preparing less elaborate meals, but is that a gain? Just so I can say 'I did all this by hand!'
And to be honest the great tactile pleasures of feeling cream thicken while whisking it by hand or looking at a pesto you have ground and chopped to fine paste by pestle and blade rather than used the blender are greatly over-rated IMO.
When I have pigs to butcher for sausage i stand for hours at a time cranking a hand grinder to mince the meat and then remince the mixture. It makes my arms ache, my back ache and blisters my hands. If I could afford an industrial scale electric mincer i would have one like a shot and not spend a moment of my life wistfully reminiscing for the good old days of doing it by hand.
How many people who can remember doing all of the household washing by hand feel that the washing machine has robbed them of a satisfying creative activity, I wonder?
Lots of things are fun to do in an anachronistic fashion if a.) you have the time and money to do it as a satisfying creative activity, and b.) you know you don't actually have to..

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Post by Mike on 12th March 2010, 10:11 pm

But I'm asking "what is a machine"? (for the purposes of this discussion)

The pastry making a perfect example. When making bread I could knead the dough "by hand", use our hand powered bread hook that you crank (convenient if doing say 5# or more), or if doing a large quantity like 50#, hopefully there is a powered "Hobart" available. Or a bunch of helpers and a bunch of those hand cranked ones.

Now I'd call only the first "by hand". I'd call the second method "by machine" even though it's a human powered device. When you only need 10-20 watts to operate the device no need for external power. But I think others here would want to call just the last "by machine".

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Post by Dandelion on 12th March 2010, 10:32 pm

Badger wrote: The education system does no better, it could be seen as training for employment. Students have no power, little to no freedoms while in that education process. they are taught to be quiet, to work hard and to be rewarded.

There is a certain mechanical 'input/output' aspect to modern education which treats young people like machines, and does not encourage individuality. The system spoonfeeds children, and it is an unusual student who thinks for him/herself. I love working with teenagers (most days...) but will content myself to earn less than half of what I could as a teacher because the education system is so dishonest.

I know this pulls the thread away from 'what is a machine', but it seems to me that we are in danger of treating young people as if they are machines
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Post by Compostwoman on 12th March 2010, 10:43 pm

Roy Bailey sang a song about "stuffing bits of meat into plastic packaged sausages...." which always resonated with me as a description of most of our compulsary education system.......

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Post by Compostwoman on 12th March 2010, 11:36 pm

I remember, even 30 years on, HAVING to wash by hand because I couldn't afford either the launderette or a washing machine...I agree with Billy on that one!

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Post by Guest on 13th March 2010, 9:22 am

The idea of taking time and reverence when preparing food is quite a simple one to understand. You are less likely to feed the people you care for too much or bad food if you are considering the detailed composition (down to the existence of that ingredient within the universe).

The idea is adjusting the life style. If you can not cut down a tree easily you will not squander any part of it.

If you have to wash by hand you adjust how you dress and materials used.

To Mike I think the Ba’ku idea was anything that increases the power of the operation beyond that of a man or other living creature. This will take the power ratio into an area that is not totally within their control or the significance is not totally in the grasp of the man. eg a chainsaw allows us to cut down trees quickly...faster than the regrowth and allowing too many people to take too many trees has left us with a big problem (and a lot of land fill)

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th March 2010, 9:52 am

Zoe wrote:The idea of taking time and reverence when preparing food is quite a simple one to understand. You are less likely to feed the people you care for too much or bad food if you are considering the detailed composition (down to the existence of that ingredient within the universe).


Ah well, no need to worry about that, I am unlikely to feed the people I care for too much or bad food anyway because I have a good understanding of nutrition, use good ingredients and am a good cook. I find no need to contrive ways of taking extra time to prepare the ingredients because the goodness is already in them - I do not imbue them with value by my attitude.

But going back to the pastry: presumably you grind the flour from grain by hand rather than using commercially machine-milled flour, so that is adding another good half an hour on each pastry you make. All these bits of time add up and something has to give. Given a choice of taking that time from teaching my children to read, or earning the money to pay the mortgage, or growing the food we eat or using ready ground flour and a machine to mix the pastry, I prioritise in roughly that order.

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Post by Hairyloon on 13th March 2010, 11:42 am

Zoe wrote:"We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man you take something away from the man."
Ba'ku Star Trek Insurrection
A valid hypothesis, but the something that you take away can easily be replaced by something better.
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Post by Guest on 13th March 2010, 1:54 pm

Hairyloon wrote:A valid hypothesis, but the something that you take away can easily be replaced by something better.

....something that takes us further away from the realities of our true existence.

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Post by polgara on 13th March 2010, 2:06 pm

I think I would like to say that machines have there place in our world today.

They give us some freedom in areas that were a real drudge in the old days. Nobody deserves to spend 2 days doing a weekly wash, or getting up at the crack of dawn in the summer & in the dark in the winter to light fires & cook a breakfast or get dinner on.

Or spend all day in a deep dark damp pit to saw up trees.

In this day & age I think it more important to remember how things were done in the past, it is a dreaded possibility that this knowledge may save the human race at some time in the future.

But let us be glad of the machines that have given us some freedom & time to enjoy things. To live longer & not die of drudgery or bad working conditions. To give us an oppertunity to improve things, but most of all not to forget how things used to be.
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Post by Hairyloon on 13th March 2010, 2:15 pm

Zoe wrote:
Hairyloon wrote:A valid hypothesis, but the something that you take away can easily be replaced by something better.
....something that takes us further away from the realities of our true existence.
If that is what you desire, I'm sure that is possible.
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Post by Compostwoman on 13th March 2010, 2:17 pm

All this seems a bit academic, considering exactly how we are all communicating.........

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th March 2010, 3:07 pm

Compostwoman wrote:All this seems a bit academic, considering exactly how we are all communicating.........

Some of us may be using handcarved wooden computers with silicon we have purified from sand off the beach and powered by wind turbines we have also carved the blades for and mined, smelted and beaten the copper ourselves.

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Post by Adrian on 13th March 2010, 3:20 pm

One thing that sticks in my mind about the Baku is that as their lives were extended indefinitely, they had the time to do all those things that others relied on machines to do. So in a way, their attitude could be seen as a trifle condescending towards more ephemeral peoples.

I also recall that they had a fine understanding of High tech, but they chose when and where to apply it, which is the approach I prefer for my my life.

Speaking of which, the sun is shining and I have to fire up the trusty Stihl to sort out fallen branches.

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Post by Compostwoman on 13th March 2010, 5:06 pm

Wilhelm Von Rhomboid wrote:
Compostwoman wrote:All this seems a bit academic, considering exactly how we are all communicating.........

Some of us may be using handcarved wooden computers with silicon we have purified from sand off the beach and powered by wind turbines we have also carved the blades for and mined, smelted and beaten the copper ourselves.

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But I bet I am the only person on here to have actually made a silicon chip....designed the circuit, done the photlith for it, done the doping, etched the silicon, etc etc ...... [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

And I suspect I may be one of the few on here to have actually made a computer from componants..and programmed it myself... [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

But I could be wrong..... [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

And the wind turbines..well that I CAN believe....I know Diablo did his own and I bet you might have had a go as well Billy? And probably some other people here as well...

Badger have been using the trusty Stihl as well this afternoon... [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th March 2010, 5:12 pm

Tell me you didn't use any machined components and I will be impressed CW.

Stihl aren't as cool as Husqvarna, btw.

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