washing machines reduced drudgery

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pages: 387 words: 110,820

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell

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barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, cognitive dissonance, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, deskilling, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, fear of failure, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income inequality, interchangeable parts, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge economy, loss aversion, market design, means of production, mental accounting, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price discrimination, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, washing machines reduced drudgery, working poor, yield management

Postwar America was bursting with pent-up eagerness and enthusiasm for the new, especially technology. People loved the shiny stuff—especially large appliances: washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators. Everyone wanted the biggest and the best, and in hot new colors like avocado green. The media had cast these mechanical marvels as freedom machines, transformers of the dreary into the fabulous. Washing machines banished the drudgery of “washing day”; freezers made the dream of TV dinners come true. To cite but one remarkable example, General Electric ran an advertisement entitled “Things My Bill Has a Right to After It’s Over,” referring to the postwar world as seen through the eyes of the wife of a young soldier. The blushing bride says her Bill has a right to all the coffee he wants from her spanking new G.E.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management

The washing machine never reached the same penetration, because many apartment-dwellers relied on machines that were communal to the building or went outside the apartment building to patronize Laundromats. The early data for washing machines in the 1940s and 1950s need qualification, for some of the machines in question were equipped with hand wringers to squeeze the water out of the clothes, requiring human effort no longer required by fully automatic washing machines with their mechanical spinning wash tubs. Whereas washing machines eliminated the previous drudgery of the washboard described in chapter 8, the arrival of the clothes dryer eliminated the tedious task of hanging clothes on outside clothes lines, where the drying process could be interrupted by rain or where, in industrial cities, the clean clothes could be coated with soot and pollution. Clothes dryers took longer to reach American households than washing machines but eventually caught up.


pages: 240 words: 60,660

Models. Behaving. Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion With Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman

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Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, Cepheid variable, crony capitalism, diversified portfolio, Douglas Hofstadter, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, law of one price, Mikhail Gorbachev, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, riskless arbitrage, savings glut, Schrödinger's Cat, Sharpe ratio, stochastic volatility, the scientific method, washing machines reduced drudgery, yield curve

But the shoe or corset isn’t the woman; it is just the most important part of the woman for this model user. Once you understand that a model isn’t the thing but rather an exaggeration of one aspect of the thing, you will be less surprised at its limitations. Let Someone Else’s Fingers Do the Walking Thinking for yourself is hard work, and models save mental labor. Like the vacuum cleaner and washing machine that promised to liberate suburban housewives of the 1950s from drudgery, models provide easy and automated ways of letting other people do the thinking for you. When I worked on my PhD thesis to test the Weinberg-Salam Model in the early 1970s, I carried out each calculation using Feynman diagrams, the cartoonlike representations invented by Richard Feynman in the late 1940s to systematize and enumerate the ways particles interact during collisions.


pages: 1,152 words: 266,246

Why the West Rules--For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Doomsday Clock, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, Francisco Pizarro, global village, hiring and firing, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, market bubble, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pink-collar, place-making, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, Sinatra Doctrine, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, upwardly mobile, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery

People had always had ways to avoid conception (legend has it that the eighteenth-century lover Casanova made his own condoms by cutting lemons in half) and birth rates were falling in the richest countries by 1900, but in the twentieth century American technology rose to this challenge too. In 1920 came latex condoms; in 1960 the oral contraceptive; and in rich countries the birth rate dropped below the replacement level of two per couple. As healthier children and the pill released women from lifetimes of breeding, cheap electrical heating coils for irons and toasters and little motors for washing machines and vacuum cleaners released them from household drudgery too. Pressing a button took care of tasks that previously called for hours of tedious labor. A woman’s work was still never done, but by 1960 she could jump in the car (almost every American family had one), drive to the supermarket (where two-thirds of the country’s food was sold), store her purchases in the refrigerator (98 percent of houses had them), and put the laundry on before the two or three kids got back from school and settled in front of the TV.


pages: 433 words: 127,171

pages: 1,327 words: 360,897