Metatalktail Hour: How Is It Still Around? October 3, 2020 9:08 PM   Subscribe

Happy Weekend, MetaFilter! This week, riverlife chimes in with an amazing suggestion spurred by last week's things from the past that have disappeared -- things from the past that are SOMEHOW still around! Or as riverlife put it, "How Has This Thing from the Past Remained a Thing in the Present??? How Has This Managed to Hang On???" They suggest baseball and AM radio to kick things off!

As always, a conversation starter, not limiter, so let's hear what's up with you! (But no politics.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 9:08 PM (98 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

(I was going to post yesterday because October 2 is apparently National Brow Day! But then All The News happened at once and I didn't get around to it because the shift was so busy.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:11 PM on October 3


Radio From Hell X96 I went to college with Bill, in 1978, we go way back. I love this program, and I am going to see if I can hear it here, why didn't I think of that sooner? They used to have a feature called, "WE SEEN IT," about celebrity sightings and other phenomena you only run across in Utah...a very fine show. My oldest daughter was way into radio and I told her I knew Bill. She was 14, and didn't believe me so she called in and asked live if he knew me, the responses were raucous, and one of the hosts stated so you knew her, but did you DO her? It just blew my daughter away that he remembered me, so I had him come to lunch when another of our old friends was in town. She was jazzed about this.
posted by Oyéah at 9:16 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


I'm not even supposed to be here today!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:37 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


You can still buy WordPerfect.
posted by Melismata at 10:08 PM on October 3 [18 favorites]


As a kid, one of my first experiences with multiplayer internet games was the virtual world platform ActiveWorlds, whose simplistic graphics were lightweight enough to run on the family computer (even if it did take ten minutes to stream the data in on dial-up). While you could pay to host your own custom environments, the original hub world, Alphaworld, was unique in that it wasn't a series of connected rooms or server shards, but a single shared virtual space the size of California. And apart from an infinite green plane and skybox, every building, road, and object entirely was entirely user-created. You could wander its digital landscape for literally hours and never run out of bizarre, funny, and occasionally *heartbreaking* creations from people who hadn't logged in for years.

It was past its prime even then, but I was fascinated enough by it to revisit every few years, marveling at the perfectly-preserved virtual ruins of an increasingly-abandoned world. I commemorated it several times on MeFi over the years, and ended up doing a big post about the history of it for its 15th anniversary.

That post was in 2010. The platform is now a quarter-century old... and still chugging along with just a few dozen regular users, and the same core neighborhoods dating back to the Clinton administration. I have no earthly idea how or why they continue to maintain it for free, especially in the midst of the current socioeconomic crisis, but I hope it keeps on keeping on as long as the internet does. (And if anyone has connections to Reply All or similar and is looking for a good story, I think a deep dive into how the company functions and how and why they run the thing would be absolutely fascinating.)
posted by Rhaomi at 10:20 PM on October 3 [10 favorites]


I am amazed that lamps are still made with switches on the cord. It is such an awful design. And yet, there they are.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:35 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


A bodkin needle is one of the most useful damn tools you can have in your house, and people are always a) freaking amazed to discover such a tool exists and b) charmed they're called "bodkins" which is so Shakespearean! They're a fat, long, often flat needle with a blunt point and a huge eye. They're AMAZING for pulling lost sweatpants ties or hoodie ties back through their tubes. (In fact that's mostly what they're for, but medieval.)

I hand-embroider a lot, so I have a ton of old-timey tools that are just wonderful, and survive into the modern age mostly for hobbyists like me. I'm particularly fond of my sewing bird, which holds the far end of a seam so you can keep it taut with one hand while you sew with the other. Thimbles are also intensely under-appreciated. Pushing needles through heavy fabric is hard!

Also it slightly boggles my mind that bows for stringed instruments are still just made of deadass horsehair. I feel like there'd be a synthetic material by now, but NOPE, still just horsehair, technology cannot yet replicate the microscopic barbs on the natural horsehair that grabs the string. (One of my proudest moments as a classical bassist was snapping a bow in half while playing Wagner. I played so extremely fortissimo that it just snapped.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:38 PM on October 3 [20 favorites]


still just made of deadass horsehair.

Deadhorse asshair?
posted by Phanx at 12:11 AM on October 4 [8 favorites]


Glass.
Like, drinking glasses, lighting (bulbs and decoration), windows. Especially windows.
Such a famously breakable material, but it can hang on intact for years, for centuries, and while substitute materials show up in a lot of applications, in some cases glass is not just the best material for the job, but the individual glass pieces are still doing the same job they always have.
I find it fascinating whenever I shake off my matter-of-factness and give it any real thought.
Glass. To me, it ranks up there with language and agriculture and the wheel as one of humanity’s greatest discoveries.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:29 AM on October 4 [16 favorites]


I am glad that First Class County Cricket in England - the long form of the game, where a match can last up to four days and still end in a draw or a tie (especially if there is bad weather) - is still around. Officially the county cricket game has been around since 1890 though unofficially since the 1720's.

My entire life people have frequently and tediously predicted the imminent demise of county cricket and they have all been wrong. Here we are, roughly three hundred years later, and county championship cricket is still going. While there's now several very different forms of cricket, and most media focus is on the money mountain hyper-spectacle form that is IPL, the long form still has much that is unique that no other sport, or other forms of cricket, has.

This season, despite it being held without crowds, the ECB who are usually good at shooting themselves in the foot managed to organise a surprisingly good long form tournament between the 18 major county sides. My beloved home county of Worcestershire did well, but not well enough to reach the final. The end result, Essex beating Somerset on the first innings rule in a four day final, seems just about apt (Somerset failed to bowl out Essex in either innings, unwisely delayed setting a fourth innings target to chase, and Alastair Cook's innings was the clear difference between the sides).

+ + + + +

My adventure in The Hwicce and the West Country of England continues. It's very Bristol-oriented now (though this morning I woke up, for work reasons, in an almost deserted hotel some 30 minutes east). This is day #46, though the combination of earlier sunsets, the weather turning to relentless English rain, and the clocks going back an hour in less than three weeks time, means the outdoor options are rapidly narrowing. Unavoidable decisions are approaching.

As before, the pictures from this trip are in this Flickr album.
posted by Wordshore at 5:24 AM on October 4 [9 favorites]


Checkbooks. Magical pieces of paper, how do you still work?
posted by Maarika at 5:26 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


You can still buy typewriter ribbons, you can still buy a typewriter or get yours repaired, and the one I keep in the window at work sometimes actually gets used in official office business.

And yeah, I adore AM radio, especially at night when you can get stations from all over the place. (Some of them you don't wanna listen to, but still.)
posted by JanetLand at 5:51 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


When you see those random bits about how Japan still has fax machines? Yes, yes they are still in use here, though less so in recent years. Also, revenue stamps that you purchase to put on the application for the thing you're requesting from the government. Like, stamps one would like, if not for mortal terror of everything at the moment. Renew your visa? Go get a (roughly) $75 stamp from the post office. Renew your driver's license? The DMV has $30 stamps. Just weird, to me.

On the other hand, no checkbooks, no checking. When the $1200 checks started arriving for US citizens this spring, how, where, and what the hell do I do with this? were the common questions among people I know in the Tokyo area.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:01 AM on October 4 [7 favorites]


In mid-September Netflix released a four-part documentary about the 1986 Challenger disaster.

On that day in 1986, the TV was on in every one of my classes in my Kansas high school and we saw that explosion. My aunt was working at NASA with that crew and has refused to talk about it when I've asked.

It's always interesting to see documentaries or read factual articles about things that I experienced as a kid and compare them to my memories. I'm waiting for the documentary about the release of the Iranian hostages which I also saw on TV in school.
posted by bendy at 6:31 AM on October 4 [4 favorites]


Knife grinding truck! One came through my neighborhood just last week--I ran my scissors and some paring knives down to him and now they're sharp again. Every few years one comes through my neighborhood and it feels like some odd holiday. Lots of other Brooklyn (chief export: nostalgia) neighbors literally running with scissors to catch the knife grinding truck. Trucks like this one (in fact, that's the exact truck that was just here).

I guess it makes sense but it feels impossibly ancient. Like something from the 1930s or 1430s and probably older than that: a man carts a heavy, abrasive stone from town to town, along with the means to spin it and the skill to sharpen metal against it while it spins; he announces his presence with a bell. I'd call it old school but it's probably older than schools.
posted by miles per flower at 6:47 AM on October 4 [16 favorites]


Comic strips. The ones that have never been funny or interesting but have nevertheless continued to appear in newspapers for decades, sometimes even after the original artist's death, as if there were a huge popular demand for them. Garfield, for instance. Or Hi and Lois. Or Beetle Bailey. Why?
posted by Redstart at 6:59 AM on October 4 [14 favorites]


Crib bumpers. They've caused about as many infant deaths as drop-sided cribs, which are banned, but you can still go to Pottery Barn and spend $100+ on designer crib bumpers. And then they're all over Facebook kids resale groups too. See also, baby walkers, which are banned in most countries but not in the US.
posted by carolr at 7:02 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Shoes with heels. They're uncomfortable, limit your ability to move around easily and by now everyone understands that wearing them actually causes physical harm. Why is anyone still buying them?
posted by Redstart at 7:07 AM on October 4 [14 favorites]


Well, to address two items in the original post above...baseball and AM radio. To me, there's nothing better than baseball ON AM radio. The slight mechanical buzz along with the crowd sounds, the pop and crackle whenever there's a strong breeze or lightning nearby, the way the announcers kind of sound like they're speaking directly to you on a mid-70's cross-country person-to-person phone call. The Twins now simulcast on both AM and FM radio in the Twin Cities and I just can't listen to the FM station. Too quiet, too clear, too much like robots. It's the audio version of the uncanny valley. Give me AM radio and baseball any day.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:32 AM on October 4 [14 favorites]


Non-metric units of measurement.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:56 AM on October 4 [15 favorites]


Personal motor vehicles (except for special circumstances) when climate change is a major thing already.
posted by aniola at 8:03 AM on October 4 [5 favorites]


Bodkin needles are easy to DIY. Just put a hole in the end of a disposable stick or chopstick.
posted by aniola at 8:05 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Checkbooks. Magical pieces of paper, how do you still work?

My question about checkbooks is why, in 2020, do I still need to use one? Every year the number of checks I write decreases, but I'll still probably need to write five or six this year. I really would have thought things would have moved beyond that by now.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:13 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Dip Flash I haven't written a check for years, my bank cuts them for me, AND they pay for the stamp and envelope and put them in the mail.

Usually online bill pay is free. At least, it's always been free at my credit unions. I did a test run by doing an online bill pay to myself for one cent. A one-cent check showed up in my mailbox.

Welcome to the future. :D
posted by aniola at 8:40 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Talk of the death of the novel as an art form goes back to the 1920s. The novel is still around.
posted by FencingGal at 8:45 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


baseball

I'm not sure why it seems mysterious this is still around? It might not be a huge as it once was, but it's working off a lot of ingrained cultural history as "America's Sport", so . . . Even as a non-sports kinda guy I actually like listening to the occasional game on the radio. Also high schools and colleges still have active baseball programs, and Little League and Tee-ball are big athletic programs for kids.

(Also, for those of us watching our tax dollars get hoovered up by major league sports stadiums, at least baseball uses the damn thing 80 to 100 times a year, as opposed to the 40-ish for basketball and fucking 8 to 10 for NFL football (grumble grumble grumble.))

AM radio

This one is all about talk radio, especially sports and conservative blather. The infrastructure & licenses were already in place, and when station owners discovered they could make a fuck ton of money having a bunch of people yell at each other, well, why kill the golden goose. Also AM radio waves tend to reach farther than FM, so advertisers are willing to pay because one ad can reach a LOT of people.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:46 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Re high heels- because aesthetics, sex appeal, and tradition are impervious to logic? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also, faxes are still very much a thing in medicine. I had to figure out how to send a fax on my office’s shiny new printer/scanner/copier/fax machine on Friday because a fax intended for a physician had made its way to our (in the hospital, but not the right place) fax somehow. It made the exact same awful old school beeping and screeching and clanging noises while i figured out how it worked.
posted by MadamM at 8:58 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Not only can you still buy WordPerfect, both Quark XPress and ReadySetGo are still available. ReadySetGo is Windows only now, but still.
posted by Ampersand692 at 9:34 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


American football
posted by sciencegeek at 9:50 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


With the mention of all the technology above, it blows me away that one can still send a telegram!
posted by dbmcd at 10:01 AM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I love baseball on the radio. I listened to a World Series game like that a few years ago and it was sublime.

I still write checks for a few things (taxes, rent, local contractors) and I've had to adjust a little because my landlady no longer drives and, due to COVID, no longer goes out. So I had been just calling the local bank and saying "Hey can you send this $$ to this account?" and they'd do it (she does not have online banking, mistrusts it, so I can't do it online). If I send her a paper check she'll nag me to walk it down to the bank to deposit it (she somehow mistrusts the mail to do this work) and the bank just this month stopped allowing phone calls for bank transfers, which makes sense. And I was amused to find that they still offer PHONE BANKING where you can use touch tone to do basic bank things.

Since I spent a lot of the last MetaTalkTails thinking "Huh I still do that thing that people are being nostalgic about" I'm sure there will be other things that come to mind as this thread goes on.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:15 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


My company makes medical devices, and still puts the manuals on a CD, despite the fact that all new computers do not include CD drives. When recently I heard that the producing of the CD was holding up shipping, I asked why don’t they just ditch the CD. They patted my head and say that would be way too easy; something something about how if they messed up the structure of the Bill of Materials, the server room would explode, or something. They’ll figure it out eventually I’m sure, when some big customer holds their feet to the fire.
posted by Melismata at 10:53 AM on October 4 [4 favorites]


The knife sharpener that comes to Key West is a full-fledged tinker as well, except she uses a TIG welder to reattach pan handles, etc. She parks in the parking lot at the Pier House downtown, and every restaurant that doesn't have a knife service brings their knives and what-all to her, and she stays a week or so, depending on business. We always took the cleaver from the paper cutter over, and she put an edge on that thing that would cut you if you looked at it.

We've still got old school palm weavers that can make baskets, wastebaskets, or silly hats for you while you watch. These folks are NOT to be confused with drunken housing-challenged persons who can almost weave palm leaves. There are also cigar rollers, right on the street, using Cuban tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic.

We also have licensed buskers. You have to buy a license to busk. It's $350 a year. I assume there must be money in busking because we have three or four per block on Duval Street during season.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 11:00 AM on October 4 [13 favorites]


jessamyn you can mail checks directly to their bank with a note saying which account it's for. I used to do this for a landlord who had Alzheimer's.
posted by aniola at 11:20 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


You can still buy WordPerfect.

And I do. And it's still better than Word. When I have to use Word I just console myself with the knowledge that I'm probably helping to cure malaria.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:38 AM on October 4 [11 favorites]


Another reason why they won’t give up CDs is because they complain, correctly, that the manuals never get uploaded to the web site in a timely manner. They have very few, generally unqualified people running the site because they still think it’s the mid 90s, when web sites were only text and pictures and run by someone in their spare time while doing other duties. (I did exactly that in the mid 90s, and felt useful and proud to be doing such a forward-thinking task.)
posted by Melismata at 11:45 AM on October 4


> Personal motor vehicles (except for special circumstances) when climate change is a major thing already.

Adding more lanes to freeways and surface streets in an effort to finally solve traffic.
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 11:53 AM on October 4 [7 favorites]


my bank cuts [checks] for me, AND they pay for the stamp and envelope and put them in the mail.

Unfortunately my bank doesn't offer that service, so I still have to write rent checks - it's literally the only reason I have a checkbook at this point. I set myself a reminder on the 24th of the month to fill it in, address the envelope, stick on a stamp, and pop it in the outgoing mailbox. It feels so obsolete, yet it persists.

Cookbooks - the Internet is chock-full of recipes and cooking videos, but clearly "old-fashioned" paper books still have a definite appeal. Not complaining, I have a few myself even though a majority of the time I'll search online for specific recipes.

School buses are not only still a thing, which makes sense; but their look has hardly changed at all in 50-odd years, which doesn't. There's a school bus stop right in front of my apartment and my WFH desk is next to a window that looks out on the street. The weekday stops seem like I'm observing a timeless tradition wrought in the depths of history that yet has no modern alternative. I've almost missed them a bit this year...though that's pretty far down the list of things the pandemic has turned topsy-turvy.

Nobody seems to use the phrase "topsy-turvy" anymore, though I guess that should go in last week's discussion.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:56 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Wordshore: As before, the pictures from this trip are in this Flickr album.

Including pictures of CAKE!

This cake from Malvern looks especially scrumptious.

You have such great photos, Wordshore. Thanks for sharing them with us!
posted by kristi at 12:31 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Any Monarchy.
posted by Faintdreams at 12:43 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


Me.
posted by Splunge at 1:05 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


'80s heavy metal. Young, under 18 metal heads still walk around in AC/DC or Iron Maiden t-shirts. I've asked them 'is there no music recorded after 1990 you like??!?' and they sort of shrug.
posted by signal at 1:06 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


As an electric guitar obsessive, of course, the lion's share of what I fixate over is technically obselete. Valve amplifiers picking up signals from an ingenious electromagnetic hack. Many of the most iconic electric guitars - the Les Paul, the Flying V, the Jazzmaster, the Jaguar - were either immediate disasters or discontinued and then reborn as equally iconic guitarists picked them up cheap. And the state of the art revolves around reproducing that antediluvian tech as faithfully as possible.

And of course there's vinyl. I don't know many hipsters, but I do know young people who play vinyl because it's another option, making a sound particular to the format. Certainly the best way to hear Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas is on a Dansette, loud enough that the tiny speaker is on the edge of screaming.
posted by Grangousier at 2:16 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: How Has This Thing from the Past Remained a Thing in the Present??? How Has This Managed to Hang On???
posted by escabeche at 2:36 PM on October 4 [20 favorites]


Grangousier: "As an electric guitar obsessive, of course, the lion's share of what I fixate over is technically obselete. "

Yeah. It's weird how much of the gearhead rock culture is an attempt to freeze a certain imaginary technical moment in time, arbitrarily selected as the highest attainable peak of sonic perfection. It's bullshit, but I look at my Tele and from my dead hands etc.
posted by signal at 3:21 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Nobody seems to use the phrase "topsy-turvy" anymore, though I guess that should go in last week's discussion.

I still use it, and that makes it count double, since no one expected me to last this long either.
posted by jamjam at 3:22 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Flammable gas piped into houses. Just watched a house explode on the news. Contractors were working on it. We have had electric stoves and heat for quite some time now. Why can't we eliminate this danger? Don't get me wrong, I prefer gas to electric for cooking. But since I moved here I have gotten used to electric. Other people will as well.
posted by Splunge at 4:02 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


It's weird how much of the gearhead rock culture is an attempt to freeze a certain imaginary technical moment in time, arbitrarily selected as the highest attainable peak of sonic perfection

Thing is, I think they are that peak, which keeps getting decontextualised, but only if you let go of a notion of a hierarchy of perfection - going back to albums - in certain contexts, 45 singles are perfect, in others (most, these days) it's the MP3. I now recognise the sound of a vinyl record played through decent 60s hi fi that had been handed down to me, as I had during the 80s, as one kind of perfection, but it couldn't compare then to what I imagined the same album would sound like on CD (less clicky, but at the same time less something ineffable too). Instead of having a model of new perfections, each one replacing its predecessor, I tend more to a multiplicity of perfections, dependent on the space.

What's remarkable about the electric guitar is that it's capable of such a wide range of sounds that one might still be finding a new combination of technique and application that was technically available to someone picking up their brand new Broadcaster seventy years ago, but only now the way the subsequent decades played out have allowed the new sounds to make themselves available. New technology doesn't replace the old, in many cases, but rather liberates it to be more itself.
posted by Grangousier at 4:36 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I was hoping to make it home for dinner, but things are very topsy-turvy at the office.
posted by Carillon at 4:41 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


New technology doesn't replace the old, in many cases, but rather liberates it to be more itself.

I've seen that in photography. For years before the digital age, film photographers tried to create images that were clean and without visible grain. Now that film is sort of a sub-genre of photography, it's more free to be glitchy and weird with shifted colors and huge blown out grain and visible scratches, sprocket holes and such.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


My 10 year old is super into old stuff like corded landline phones and typewriters. She has a landline phone in her school "home office". It's not connected to anything, she just likes the style. So I spent Friday night rewiring it to act as a regular headphone/mic jack combo for a phone or computer. So now she can facetime with friends using a corded landline should she ever feel the need,

Also, one benefit of quarantine is that the ice cream truck comes by our tiny dead end rural street for the first time in forever, and I will say that kids catch on immediately. Sound of the truck, and 10 seconds later they are tearing out to buy the same things I did as a kid. Although in newer news, after the last trip they brought in a flyer saying the ice cream truck was going to become the homemade bread truck come winter. Which is excellent.
posted by true at 4:55 PM on October 4 [14 favorites]


There are still so many things that have to be faxed rather than emailed.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:11 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


On fax machines:
I had some medical bills to pay a few years ago, and I couldn’t make the payments online even using a credit card, because for some reason I had to call the billing department, and use the AUTOMATED PHONE MENU which (according to the operator I spoke to when trying to set up online payment) somehow sent a fax somewhere in the same building to whoever charged my account.
I called the head of the billing department and left an angry voicemail that didn’t include swears, but did include the word “Byzantine.”
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:17 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I imagine some poor staffer grabbing a stack of faxes at the end of the day and typing the data into a web form, just to complete the circle of madness.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:20 PM on October 4 [7 favorites]


Wait, not everyone regularly « experiences » the fax machine?

— someone working in clinical trials (with medical offices)

But then again my bank used to require that we fax our property bill over to them (and only fax it if we wanted any sort of timely response) quarterly so that they would pay the tax from escrow, so I guess good thing I had a fax at work.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:23 PM on October 4


but things are very topsy-turvy at the office.

Just so long as they don't go all higgledy-piggledy.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:24 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


I imagine some poor staffer grabbing a stack of faxes at the end of the day and typing the data into a web form, just to complete the circle of madness.

Mister Moofoo, that is totally the case as far as I know. Many email systems are not HIPAA-compliant so somehow fax is an ok intermediary...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:25 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


There's an old-fashioned shaved ice and peanut cart in the park in my neighborhood that's been there since 1917. The neighborhood and fallen and risen, stadiums have come and gone and the entire business district that the park surrounds was razed in the 1960s but Gus and Yaya's cart is still there on W. Ohio Street.
posted by octothorpe at 7:31 PM on October 4 [7 favorites]


Hello, part of my job is entering data that is sometimes faxed (thankfully mostly scanned and emailed now)! I have also personally printed PDFs of medical records and faxed them, in a past medical office job.
posted by MadamM at 7:35 PM on October 4


I suppose it's obvious to say newspapers, especially when I go into a supermarket and there's a sad, thin stack of Boston Globes near the exit, with headlines like "go to www.bostonglobe.com to learn more!"

But what's funny is that as print papers go digital, they still act like it's a big deal. One local paper said "OMG WE'RE DEAD! WE'RE CLOSING UP SHOP! THIS IS OUR LAST ISSUE! And oh, we'll be online as usual the following week." I suppose their major consumers are the ones who are online-averse...

Anyway, just last week I had a big "that was still around??" moment. Mefi's Own™ adamg has an awesome local web site, and recently he announced that the The Jewish Advocate, one of Boston's oldest newspapers, ends publication. (They're a bit vague about whether they're going to put more content online.)

The Jewish Advocate was huge in my mother's day, post-WWII, she remembers her mother going to the mailbox to get it and everyone discussing it. It was the voice of the Boston Jewish community.

Back in 2002, I briefly worked as a copyeditor for them, and even then I was like "ah well, this newspaper too is dying."

The long-term, beloved editor-in-chief had retired a year before; his office, still wall-to-wall with an amazing array of books on every Jewish subject you could think of, stood empty; people used it to make private phone calls. The publisher had just hired a British Jewish newspaper conglomerate to run everything, which was shaping up to be a disaster. The British guy had no clue about American Jewish culture, never mind Boston Jewish culture. He insisted on screaming headlines and tabloid-type articles, and as the copyeditor I was removing tons of obscure references. (I argued with him once when he wanted to begin an editorial with "Over at 10 Downing Street, they think we should...", pointing out that there were many people who wouldn't know what that meant.) The entire editorial staff turned over twice in the two years I was there.

But even without that, the writing was on the wall; as the older generation died off, their children were just not interested in a paper that their old fogey parents read, especially one that had bland, dumb headlines that they could find elsewhere on the internet. There was some local culture clashing too, between the children of the Holocaust community and the newly-arrived Russian Jewish community, who wanted to do things their way. (But ... "look what we went through!!" said the Holocaust community. To which the Russian community replied, "...".) The Russians were less interested in assimilation (at the time, anyway), and subscription numbers went down even further as they (went online and) opened up their own publications. (Two Jews, three opinions, yes.) It's really a shame that there was no one dynamic leader who stepped up and said, we're going to make this the voice of Jewish Boston again! But maybe that was impossible.

So I got laid off, was not surprised one iota given all the fighting going on, and moved on. I have no idea whether the Brits threw up their hands and gave up or what, but a year or two later I picked up a copy and discovered a notice that they were looking for volunteer reporters--they were no longer paying them, either. Then I forgot about them completely, until the notice last week that they were shutting down. Some things, like the comics listed above (OMG Gasoline Alley is still going???), just keep on repeating themselves, like a broken record, until somebody notices that the money has run out.

I love this thread!! :)
posted by Melismata at 8:05 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Schoolbuses, holy hell! They recently started running again here and I had forgotten how loud they are! Not only have they not evolved at all from when I was a kid, but I think they are the actual same vehicles from back then. Incredible.
posted by HotToddy at 8:05 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


The voicemail still tells you to leave a message at the beep. Thanks! I had no idea what to do!
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:49 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


So, while I am thinking very specifically of my local mall, Kingsgate Mall, i expect the phenomenon of a mall that appears to exist mostly in the early 90s, and contains mostly shops that have every appearance of being a franchise chain, but one which you have never heard of and which you suspect this is the last surviving instance of, exists in little tucked away pockets all across North America.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:33 AM on October 5 [6 favorites]


Although Private Eye have a website, it tends to operate more as an extended advert for the paper magazine than anything else. Their stories are more often shared on social media by people photographing the relevant passage and posting it to Twitter. Apparently sales are buoyant.
posted by Grangousier at 1:01 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I've recently started using Aleppo soap. (previously) which definitely fits the theme, as it's miraculously still around after thousands of years. It's also working really well for my skin. In the shower, it feels as if you are getting very clean, which first lead me to expect dryness afterwards.
Huh... no dryness happened. Instead, my skin feels softer than I'm used to.

Amazing stuff. The Green Gold, it's sometimes called. And not even expensive (try your local vendor of groceries from the Middle East).
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:42 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


The voicemail still tells you to leave a message at the beep. Thanks! I had no idea what to do!

I mean voicemail in general. What's the point?
posted by Literaryhero at 4:26 AM on October 5


90% of the voicemail I get is spam. No one I know would leave me a message.
posted by octothorpe at 4:36 AM on October 5


I have voicemail switched off, otherwise I'd have to listen to it and I'm sure that I'd forget. Better to switch it off completely, from the perspective of expectation management.

My elderly parents both leave me a Telegram message if they can't reach me. Why, yes, I do consider myself lucky.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:52 AM on October 5


I'm not elderly quite yet but now I feel old because I don't know what Telegram is. (Yes, I know I could google it).
posted by octothorpe at 5:01 AM on October 5


Telegram.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:06 AM on October 5


I already use Signal but almost no one else I know also uses it. 95% of the people I chat with still just use basic SMS.
posted by octothorpe at 5:15 AM on October 5


You can still buy WordPerfect.

LaTeX2e trundling along since 1994.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:12 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


but things are very topsy-turvy at the office.

Just so long as they don't go all higgledy-piggledy.


Piggly Wiggly is still a thing!!
posted by JanetLand at 6:22 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


but things are very topsy-turvy at the office.

Just so long as they don't go all higgledy-piggledy.


I'm at sixes and sevens just thinking about it.
posted by FencingGal at 8:48 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


but things are very topsy-turvy at the office.

Just so long as they don't go all higgledy-piggledy.

I'm at sixes and sevens just thinking about it.


But are you dressed to the nines?
posted by hanov3r at 9:29 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


10-4, good buddy!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:09 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]




The freakin Voyager mission! Launched in the 1970s, flew by all of the outer planets and their moons, and it's still sending back data to NASA. Its primary mission will still be science all the way up until the batteries fail forever, and then its primary mission will become ... carrying the Golden Record as it floats through the universe for the next 5 billion years, waiting to be discovered by someone else out there. It's the first and only human-made thing to ever leave our solar system and in 40,000 years it will float by another star. All technology from the 1970s. In. Credible.
posted by MiraK at 11:25 AM on October 5 [22 favorites]


Ludlum Geiger-Müller counters (or, well, survey meters, some models can take other detectors too). I've used variants on these in literally every lab I've used radioactive materials in, pretty much always paired with this pancake detector. As far as I can tell, at some point in the '50s, Ludlum decided that they were done: this was, in fact, the platonic ideal of survey meters. And it still is! No apps. No proprietary, buggy software. If you turn it on, and there is enough of the sort of radiation it can detect, the meter reading'll go up, and it will beep, faster and more disturbingly as more is detected. That's it! I am pretty sure that in event of some apocalypse, they will long outlast their operators (as long as D batteries can be sourced occasionally).

In another lab-related examples, I can confirm that you can, indeed, still buy decent floppy disks on Amazon. When I left my grad lab, I exported a lot of lab data off of some of our ancient computers 1.44 MB at a time. Zip disks are iffier in quality - but, then, that technology lasted for such a brief amount of time, so I'd bet there's less demand, since most machines that have the appropriate drives'll also take floppies and/or CD-Rs.
posted by ASF Tod und Schwerkraft at 1:01 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


The library I work at still has functional card catalogs (i.e. the information on the cards is not stored anywhere else).
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:43 PM on October 5 [6 favorites]


I adore AM radio, especially at night when you can get stations from all over the place.

That was kind of my internet, pre-internet. Although I was too shy to call in myself. But being able to hear people from all over, in real time still was something. Back in the day, Larry King seemed like a cool guy on his radio show.

I still remember things I heard years ago that I've tried or wanted to turn into creative writing. Like anecdotes from that show where they discussed the supernatural.
Or the time I heard a host and caller seeming to really hit it off, and me thinking, this is a hook up story
posted by NorthernLite at 2:24 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


You can still buy WordPerfect.

Yeah, I still use this at work and quite a few other firms do as far as I can tell. Yes it hooks up to our practice-specific software but that also supports Word so we could have transitioned to a more modern word processor. I guess it ain't broke so why fix it?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:45 PM on October 5


I wonder how much longer computer programs will keep using a picture of a floppy disc as the Save icon. We may already be at the point where people who know what the picture represents are in the minority. How much longer until it's an obscure piece of trivia known to only a handful of users?

And how long will we keep referring to our handheld computers as "phones," as if that were their primary use? Maybe as landlines die out, "phone" will become a word that means "handheld computer" and everyone will forget that phones were once single-purpose devices for having voice conversations with other people.
posted by Redstart at 5:41 PM on October 5 [5 favorites]


One thing that I'm glad is still around is decades-old red wine...a bottle of which I've just bought myself for the big milestone birthday I've got coming up in oh shit seventeen days.

(I really wanted a bottle of single malt whisky from that year, but I also really want to make rent and buy food this month, so....)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:33 AM on October 6


I often point out that I use my iPhone as a torch more often than I use it as a phone and that technically it should be called the iTorch.
posted by Grangousier at 5:53 AM on October 6


I was hoping to make it home for dinner, but things are very topsy-turvy at the office.

Try not to wake me when you come in.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:02 AM on October 6


120 format film, introduced in 1901 for the Kodak Brownie and still kicking on, paper backing, spool, and all. People who own medium-format film cameras swear by the large-and-in-charge negatives they make.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:04 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I shoot 120 film all the time, there's a certain look that you can't get with a smaller format, film or digital.
posted by octothorpe at 6:48 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Teledildonics, apparently.
posted by Grangousier at 11:53 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


I also shoot 4x5 sheet film which also still exists along with 8x10 film. Not only that but a small company in New Hampshire has revived photographic dry glass plates in a variety of sizes from 2"x2-1/2" all the way up to 11"x14". A box of 10 4x5 costs you $40 so each shot is $4 but they look like this.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I still write checks for a few things (taxes, rent, local contractors)

I'll go one further and say the US banking system in its entirety. I had to return there for a spell in the last few years and had need for a banking account. Everything I had to do save in-person debit card purchases and moving funds between accounts at the same bank was like pounding sand into my eyes. Online bill payment. Bank transfers. Medallion signatures. Updating verification procedures. Legal fees and other services only payable by check. Having to walk physically into a branch, in person, to sort relatively simple issues. It felt like I'd been transported to the 19th century. Having grown accustomed to the full power of internet banking in the Nordics I had trouble understanding how I'd managed to do anything under that system.


But since I moved here I have gotten used to electric. Other people will as well.


YOU WILL PRY MY GAS HOB FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS
posted by myotahapea at 9:23 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Meh. The gas stoves that get put into rental units are underpowered and annoying. I'll take electric over those any day. Proper gas stoves are nice, but the instant-on/instant-off benefits aren't significant enough for me to have strong personal feelings about gas vs. electric.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:15 AM on October 7


I vote by fax, mainly because it's faster than by mail.
Here at work we still fax quite a bit, apparently, I think order coming from abroad. But for the 2016 election I was still in university, and someone mentioned that there was a fax machine somewhere. It took a week or so of asking around, but someone managed to figure it out, they mentioned it was their first time sending a fax in the five years they'd worked there.
posted by Karmeliet at 7:02 AM on October 8


Gas stoves are taking at least as much heat as they produce, lately:
Yet here’s the doozy: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that “studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times — and occasionally more than 100 times — higher than outdoor levels.”

Despite those risks, there are no federal standards or guidelines governing indoor pollution. A patchwork of state and local standards protects consumers, inadequately.

One major source of indoor air pollution, it turns out, is the familiar gas stove, which relies on the direct combustion of natural gas.

Four research and advocacy groups — the Rocky Mountain Institute, Mothers Out Front, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Sierra Club — have released a new literature review, assessing two decades worth of peer-reviewed studies. They find that “gas stoves may be exposing tens of millions of people to levels of air pollution in their homes that would be illegal outdoors under national air quality standards.”
posted by jamjam at 11:25 AM on October 8


The little punch-out cards that you get every six months from the insurance company proving that you have auto insurance. Why are we still doing this? I know the cops can sometimes look it up in their little database and you can look up your own status on your insurer’s website, so why don’t we don’t we modernize and standardize our way of sharing insurance information? Because these little cards are like DIY business cards from Staples.
posted by HotToddy at 6:12 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Haha banks. For a while when I needed to transfer funds from bank 1 to bank 2, it would save me three days to go to bank 1, withdraw cash, and physically deposit it at bank 2.

They had electronic transfer. It just took three days.

They're better only as of this year
posted by emjaybee at 7:26 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, banks are weird. Last year a friend in Europe was trying to send me money, and his bank had no useful idea about how to get money from his account to mine and suggested elaborate and impractical maneuvers, and mine was completely astonished I would even ask such an outlandish question. It was as if I had asked them to cut my hair or wash my car. You would think banks would be experts in sending money around, much better than a service like PayPal, but no.
posted by JanetLand at 11:33 AM on October 9


Some time mid 1980's I needed to pay someone in the US a modest amount, USD 50 or so. On asking my bank how to go about this, the answer was roughly "Officially you shouldn't, and we're not supposed to suggest this, but just buy the amount you need as paper currency, round up if needed, stick it in an envelope and send it by standard mail. Any interbank transfers will take literally ages and will cost about twice that amount in fees."

It appears there hasn't been much of an improvement since.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:26 PM on October 12


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