Posted by: rolfsky | March 31, 2007

remember when…

sometimes, I play a game with myself that for lack of a better name I shall call “Remember When?”

In the Remember When game, each sentence starts out with “Remember when…” and ends in a question mark. I invented the game after seeing some brilliant full-color photographs of Russia 100 years ago. These special photographs were taken with a unique three-color negative process, allowing a later recombination into a full color representation via optical projection or modern computer wizardry.

For the most part, the world in photographs before 1935, is black and white. With the introduction of Kodachrome, the world suddenly leaped into color which still remains today. I had never realized that while of course I logically understood that old photographs in black and white were actually of a colorful world, the notion had still affected me in such a way that I thought the world was actually black and white. (I believe there is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin asked when the world changed to color.)

And with this, I realized how our artifacts shade our world into thinking that the modern is better, and people in the past must have been very stupid or clumsy because they didn’t have pocket calculators and used giant rivets in their construction. We seldom account for the fact that the same individuals who are now engineering the modern microchip, were once engineering steam locomotives with just as much skill, knowledge, and ingenuity.

Before we start playing Remember When, we’ll start with the easy version called “Can You Believe” to show you the intent. Below, I’ll list some Remember Whens for our modern day, clearly illustrating the stupidity and barbarousness of our ancestors.

Can you believe…

  • women in ancient Rome used eye shadow made of lead?
  • ancient Romans didn’t shower, they oiled themselves and scraped off the dirt with a curved stick?
  • ancient Romans had their water delivered through lead piping?
  • people raised and butchered their own livestock?
  • blood-letting was considered an effective cure for most illnesses?
  • people kept a pot under their bed for use during the night because they had no indoor toilet?

Think times were bad then? Now let’s play, Remember When and begin to question how smart, or “advanced” we really are.

Remember when…

  • some people lived at home without data service?
  • people kept computers on their desks instead of in the service closet in the basement?
  • 1080 lines of vertical resolution was “high definition”?
  • television was only two-dimensional?
  • you had to drive your car yourself on the freeway?
  • *you* had to go to the store to buy your *own* groceries?
  • meat was sold uncooked?
  • chickens were served with bones in them?
  • women had their breasts sliced open and sacks of fluid inserted in them so they’d appear larger?
  • mail was written on paper which was hand-delivered by a person to your house?
  • you paid the same for each individual text message, regardless of length?
  • you purchased movies and music on plastic discs which you needed in order to enjoy the content?
  • after you’d bought a plastic disc with music on it, you never had to pay for it again (and you could take it to your friend’s house?)?
  • refuse was collected in trucks and buried in the ground instead of being converted to fuel?
  • centralized agencies needed to string copper wires between houses to deliver electricity?
  • we cut down trees, ripped off their branches and bark so that we could jam them in the ground somewhere else to hold up wires?
  • to communicate with someone else, you needed to memorize or have programmed their 10-digit contact number?
  • you didn’t get a profile page from your data provider?

I’m sure you can go on…. and please do.


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