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6.4.11

Those Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear

IMPORTANT NOTE: Max Kaiser's Silver Liberation Army has a very real chance of taking down some powerful enemies of the People of the World.  Everyone should see this video and act on it right away!
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Thinking about JC, who I mentioned yesterday, started me down the path of reminiscing about the Good Old Days.  Some things have not changed a bit, while others have a much different spin on them now.

One thing that comes to mind is the whole thing about guns.  Now, being a Texan, I'd be naked without a gun.  I grew up shooting and Saturday afternoons at the creek with my dog involved a lot of ammunition.  And cans, and bottles, and anything else that was shootable.  I got my first rifle when I was 8.  Santa brought it to me.  It was a Browning .22 lever-action with a 10-round magazine, if I was using shorts.  By that point, I had already gotten pretty good with a .410 shotgun and had used everything from pistols to .30-.30 Winchesters and .12-gauge Remington pumps.  But, I was pretty proud of my rifle.

I went on to earn Marksman at 100 feet from the NRA, back when the NRA still meant something.  At my first high school in Shiner, Texas, the kids who drove their pick-ups to school had at least one gun on school grounds at all times.  Later, when we moved back to Houston, my Big City high school had skeet club on Thursdays, and the student body looked like military muster.

Never once had an accident or saw a problem involving a gun.  Of course, if someone wanted to start some trouble, he'd be up to his eyeballs in the business end of a bunch of guns.

I used to take my kids to the shooting range on Saturdays.  It was a nice way to blow off a few hours and a pocket-full of cash.  The kids got pretty good, too.  By the tender age of 10, they had shot SKS semis, .30-.30s, .22s, .410 snake guns, several pistols from .22 up to .45, and my .12-gauge Remi pump, which put the fear of God in them.

My guns were never locked, and didn't need to be.  The kids knew they weren't toys.

Now, when kids bring guns to school, all the good guys are disarmed.  Makes perfect sense, right?

When I was just a couple of weeks old, John Glenn took off on his historic trip around the world in 90 minutes.  My mom had locked herself out of the house, but said she could see me watching the TV intently from my crib.  Now, here we are, 50 years later, and astronauts are still circling the Earth.  Except for a brief sojourn to the Moon, folks haven't left Earth orbit in all that time.  Back then, we were all going to be living in Moom colonies, and semi-regular flights would be going to Mars by now.

When I was growing up, the nightly news with Uncle Walt had the daily body count from Vietnam.  Then we added Cambodia and Laos.  All these years later, the US is still at war, only they won't publish the body count any more.  Bad for propaganda.  Things haven't changed much on the war front.  Moved it a little further west into the desert, but it's still illegal and people are still putting up with it.

On the political front, we had Kennedy shot, then his brother, then Martin L. King.  We had riots at the Chicago and Miami political conventions in '68.  There was Kent State and Flower Power and Peace Signs.  All those people have died now, or are medicated into oblivion, so the Great Society and the 60s ideals are dead.  About all that's left is Global Warming, which is kinda like cold pizza compared to where it started.

One benefit...the Hudson River hasn't caught on fire in years.

One drawback...Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima.

I think I was happier when the rivers were flammable.

I used to buy BIG Hershey chocolate bars for a nickel.  Then they started something called a sales tax, and candy bars shot up to 6 cents...then 11 cents, and now $1,50.  And the bars are much smaller and not as good as they were.  Coca-Cola was a nickel for the 5 1/2-ounce bottle.  Back then, it was made with real sugar.  Now they use corn syrup, which makes everyone fat and get diabetes.  And the Cokes?  A dollar or more for a 12-ounce can (if they are still 12-ounces).

My dad bought a 1953 Chevy Bellaire for $1,500.  That car was a tank.  I could walk from the front on the car to the back and the skin wouldn't once crinckle or pop.  It had a slant-6 under the hood and 3-on-the-tree.  Even I could tear it apart and rebuild it in an afternoon, with a couple of cold beers and a cheap radio.  I can't even open the hood of a car now.  The mechanism is much too complex.  Need to get a technician to do it.

Have to get him to tune the radio for me, too.  Or at least plug in the MP3 data stick and switch it over.

My uncle had one of the first cell phones.  Back then, they were called radio phones, or portable phones, though portable in the way a 50-pound sack of flour is portable.  It was in a briefcase.  You plugged it into the cigarette lighter (back when cars still had them), opened the case, flipped up the antenna, and then waited for three or four hours until the phone could lock onto a signal.  You had to key it to talk, like a 2-way radio.

My uncle also had one of the first calculators.  It was the size of an old IBM Selectric typewriter and used vacuum tubes to illuminate the numbers.  It could do four functions and cost nearly $500.

My first computer was an IBM 8086 with dual floppies.  You had to put the program disk in one slot and the save disk in the other.  If you wanted to run another program, you had to quit the first, remove the disk, and boot up the second one.

One day, I was feeling particularly rich, so I bought a 30-megabyte hard drive and a 300-baud modem.  I was giddy with excitement!  I thought I would never fill 30 megabytes!  And a modem!  Why I could dial up...dial up...hmmm...who was I going to dial up?

At the time, there were nothing but message boards run by sysops.  You could get a list from your technorati friends and start logging in.  You could (gasp) send text messages to other people!  As long as they were on the same BBS.  Then all hell broke loose.  You could send messages to related sites all over town, then the country.  At night, the sysop would take the system offline and call up the other sites and swap....hmmm...what shall we call it?  How about e-mail?

My first job that used computers had a local network.  All the stations were hooked to the server room and each employee had a bernoulli disk.  If you've never seen a bernoulli disk, then you have no idea how far we've come in a few short years.  It was the size of a suitcase and took three strong men to lift it.  Or so it seemed.  But hey!  It was removable and stored up to (gasp!) 20 megabytes!

After that, those little cutsie Apple SEs just didn't seem manly.

When I was a kid, there were still radio shows, not talk shows, but actual entertainment.  Black and white TV was the norm and the idea of recording something from broadcast was not even thought of.  The TV set took five minutes to warm up, and all us kids loved to watch the little dot fade when you turned it off.  Cheap thrills.  You could even fix your own TV set.  Just go down to the hardware store with all the tubes and test them until you found the bad one.  Then stick them all back in, and VIOLA!  TV worked again.

Them was the days, I tell ya.  Back when it was Americans rioting in the streets, and wars and assassinations, and exploding rivers, and students being shot for not behaving, and Moon landings, and computers as powerful as your pocket calculator that filled rooms.  And we didn't eat food.  No siree!  We ate ROCKS and we were thankful for that!  And we had to walk two miles to school up-hill both ways.

Yeah, the only difference between then and now is that everyone's in a drug-induced fog and doesn't realize that we are going around in circles.

Give me some more Valium, I'm starting to wake up!  What?!  No Valium?  Well, what's this Xanax stuff?

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