Category Archives: History

How economic boom times in the West came to an end

Out of the chaos of World War II came the greatest economic boom the world has ever seen. Fueled by a rapidly modernizing workforce, productivity increased in the years between 1948 and 1973. Then war in the Middle East and the oil embargo put a stop the boom and the productivity increase.

But it wasn’t just the oil crisis. The improvements in education, the transfer of workers into manufacturing and the move of women into the workforce had all peaked. Despite minor blips here and there the sad fact is productivity has not significantly increased since 1973, there’s simply no more improvement to be gained.

Countries that elected left-leaning governments tried electing right-leaning governments in hope of changing things. It didn’t work. The old ways simply don’t work and no knows what will. Keep this in mind as the year progresses.

What the 1% did to Lancaster, Ohio

Lancaster, Ohio was once held up as a shining example of what a small American city should be. Even in the 60s and 70s it kept going when other cities saw their industries shutter. But then the Reagan years began and private-equity financiers got involved. Soon Anchor Hocking, the local glass company that had mostly escaped the forces that created the Rust Belt, was awash in debt as those financiers used it to give themselves enormous paybacks. Today Anchor Hocking is a ghost of its former self, Lancaster is full of poverty and drug use and those who profited from all of it are very far away.

Despite all this, almost two-thirds of Lancaster voted for you-know-who in the election.

World War II Memorial

Back in 2013 I had the chance to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. I took the opportunity to highlight the parts of the memorial that were associated with my dad’s service in the Navy.

They have a kiosk where you can look up someone’s service information. My dad entered his own.

Charles J. Maszerowski

He served in the Pacific Theater for most of the war.

Pacific

Guadalcanal was the battle that resulted in his ship, USS Wasp CV-7, being sunk. He was one of many who survived.

Guadalcanal

Thanks to the efforts of the Navy, Marines and our allies we achieved a hard-fought victory. This memorial assures that they are not forgotten.

Victory At Sea

Lower Falls and Maplewood Park

Today I visited one of the more overlooked parts of the Genesee River, the Lower Falls. It’s not quite as scenic (or as high) as High Falls and gets far fewer visitors. Unlike High Falls, however, it’s still an active hydroelectric site under the control of RG&E. Among other things it was once home to a small settlement, with a mill and other buildings that exist now only in bits and pieces.

Lower Falls by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

 

Lower Falls by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

 

Island by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

 

Mill Race by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

 


Next to the Lower Falls site, is Maplewood Park. The park boundaries have been changed over the years, likely because of proximity to the steep cliffs of the river gorge. This structure was abandoned and placed well behind a fence. Nevertheless it gets lots of visits. I would have been one of them but I didn’t have the proper gear with me and thought it best to visit another day.

Maplewood Park by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

 

The rise and fall of the Gopher protocol

When I first encountered what we now call the Internet, it was called NSFnet and was run by the National Science Foundation (although references to the ARPAnet still abounded). Finding information or any kind of file was difficult at best unless you already knew where it was stored. My grad school was connected, as were most universities, but we didn’t have DNS set up so you actually had to use IP numbers to specify hosts to connect to. It was the opposite of user-friendly.

By 1992 the governing committee of the Internet realized it needed a better way to connect this growing network to its users. Among the contenders was the Gopher protocol that was created by programmers at the University of Minnesota.

Gopher did very, very well for a while, greatly exceeding Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, one of the others proposed. Then the University decided to charge users to use Gopher. The rest is, as they say, history.

This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism

You might not think of him as a political theorist but Hunter S. Thompson certainly was (among a great number of other things). In the process of researching his infamous Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Thompson came face to face with what he called their “ethic of total retaliation” against a technologically advanced and economically changing America in which they felt they’d been counted out and left behind.

For Thompson, the Angels weren’t important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics. As Thompson presciently wrote in the Nation piece he later expanded on in Hell’s Angels, that kind of politics is “nearly impossible to deal with” using reason or empathy or awareness-raising or any of the other favorite tools of the left.

Sound familiar?

Wellsville and Salamanca

Last week I hopped on the Bumblebeemer and took a long ride to the Southwestern corner of NY State. One of the places I stopped was Wellsville where, as the name suggests, oil was discovered. Most if not all of those old wells have either gone dry or become to expensive to maintain. This old pump was visible from the road and was apparently part of a system of wells and pumps long since abandoned.

Driven by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Bearing by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Pump by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Further down the road is Salamanca. It’s an odd place as the city is entirely on the Allegany Reservation of the Seneca nation. As a result, the Senecas own the land and homeowners lease the property. It’s been controversial and has scared a lot of people and businesses away. Salamanca was a major rail hub at one point but that has long since lost its importance. These are some of the remnants of its rail yard (along with a museum).

Towers by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Falling Concrete by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Bent by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Google Maps shows that there was a large roundhouse and turntable in the yard at one time so I’m going back to check that out sometime.