A Blog Around The Clock

Obligatory Readings of the Day

A guide to hiring women.

Obsolete technical skills (I have them all except #11!)

The social source of religion.

Charles Barkley for President!

Comments

  1. #1 John McKay
    February 18, 2008

    I have done all obsolete skills except #4. But I wouldn’t guarantee that I could still do all of them without taking someone’s eye out.

  2. #2 Coturnix
    February 18, 2008

    Oh, thanks, I also cannot say I can do #4 (a father of a friend of mine was a courtroom shorthand-person and tried to teach us, but I never caught on).

  3. #3 Coturnix
    February 18, 2008

    Have you checked the wiki linked in that post? More examples (as well as a list of counter-examples, i.e., new skills).

  4. #4 Barn Owl
    February 18, 2008

    The “develop and print film” item reminds me that there are some obsolete laboratory skills that could be included on the wiki:

    Process, embed, and section tissues on a microtome
    Run sections through any one of several standard histological staining procedures
    Pour, load, and run a sequencing gel
    Cesium chloride gradient centrifugation
    Correctly load a slide carousel
    Find an old journal article in a bound volume in the library
    Window a fertilized chicken egg
    Maintain several different strains of mice, flies, or fish using phenotype (no PCR genotyping)
    Isolate growth factors from slaughterhouse tissues, using biochemical techniques
    Take photomicrographs with a 35mm film camera (and correctly load and unload the film)
    Make microsurgical instruments (e.g. sharpened tungsten needles) and repair/sharpen damaged surgical instruments (e.g. watchmaker’s forceps)

    The first two are not really obsolete, as much as they are skills that are typically farmed out to a service core (=$$$$)

  5. #5 Coturnix
    February 18, 2008

    Again, I can do most of those as well! ;-) Furthermore, as metal tools are too crude for embryo manipulation, I also know how to make surgical tools out of cactus needles and human hair!

  6. #6 Coturnix
    February 18, 2008

    And it’s not just technical skills, but implicit knowledge of all sorts of things that changes over time.

  7. #7 Interrobang
    February 19, 2008

    Heh. I knew that butter isn’t spreadable when refrigerated, and I can’t even eat the stuff. I’m so allergic to milk, butter would most probably land me in the ER again. On the other hand, having a food allergy to something that’s as ubiquitous as dairy products (many processed meats, potato products, almost all prepackaged dinners) and a bunch of other items that make one’s stomach cranky does in fact cause one to relearn the ostensibly lost art of cooking from scratch.

    Personally, I suspect people in the US don’t cook from scratch, but given how crappy your ingredient quality tends to be, how limited most grocery stores’ selections are, and how expensive actual spices (as opposed to flavouring mix packages) tend to be, that’s not surprising. A friend of mine setting up housekeeping in the US for the first time told me that to equip her kitchen with what she considers to be the basics would cost $100 there, and $40 here.

    A truly obsolete (to the point where knowing how to do it is actually arcane) technical skill would be something like operating a Nipkow disc camera. I grew up not far from an urban centre of 300K people and we didn’t get touch-tone service there until 1990 or so. Scoble and their commenters need to get their heads out of their class privilege.

  8. #8 John McKay
    February 19, 2008

    I woke up this morning thinking about this list and some on the amazing technical skills I have (or have had) and remembered this one. Who knows the skill that includes the following jargon?

    • Thread
    • Soft ball
    • Firm ball
    • Hard ball
    • Light crack
    • Hard crack

    I also posted the list at my place to see if anyone can still do it.

  9. #9 Barn Owl
    February 25, 2008

    Personally, I suspect people in the US don’t cook from scratch, but given how crappy your ingredient quality tends to be, how limited most grocery stores’ selections are, and how expensive actual spices (as opposed to flavouring mix packages)

    Errr, wrong. I cook from scratch almost all of the time, and I certainly didn’t learn to do so during the three years I lived in Europe. Many of my fellow USAmerican friends also cook from scratch…and by that I don’t mean chucking things like Twinkies, Snickers bars, or roadkill into a turkey deep-fryer.

    John McKay’s terms above refer to making candy from scratch, and judging the temperature of the mix from its behavior when dropped into water. Didn’t learn to do that in Europe, either. ;-)