Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

History, Technology, and Reminiscences

At my advanced years, I sometimes reflect on how much more capital we have at our disposal now than we did when I was a child, and on the tremendous technological changes and innovations we've enjoyed. Ben Muse has three posts in a row here, here, and here that help us realize that people felt the same way about changes in previous generations. In one of the pieces, Ben writes

I'm often startled to think how far technology has come in the lifetimes of people I've known. People felt the same way in the industrial revolution of the 19th Century.

Ben continues with intriguing quotes from An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon.

According to John Steele Gordon, young George Templeton Strong
was impressed with technological change to 1839 :

"...the railroads simply thrilled the people of the day, who sensed immediately that they were in a new era, one beyond the comprehension of earlier times. "It's a great sight to see a large train get underway," nineteen-year-old George Templeton Strong wrote in his diary in 1839. "I know of nothing that would more strongly impress our
great-great grandfathers with an idea of their descendent's progress in
science...Just imagine such a concern rushing unexpectedly by a stranger to the invention on a dark night, whizzing and rattling and panting, with its fiery furnace gleaming in front, its chimney vomiting fiery smoke above, and its long train of cars rushing along behind like the body and tail of a gigantic dragon - or like the devil himself - and all darting forward at the rate of twenty miles an hour, Whew!"

Strong wants to show Ben Franklin a railroad train; I'd like to
have him with me as my plane descends into Seattle on a clear day.

He can have the window seat.

The postings are well worth reading.
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