Apropos of nothing (other than prurient interest), I sent a rant around about a Maclean’s article yesterday.
Apropos of Canada’s own Mark Steyn with his views on the same subject plus the wonderful comments, I have more to say. Here’s Mark’s opinion:
What is very cool to me is the comments. Made me grin. “We” are out there. In large numbers. Here’s one from “llamas” that really caught my eye. He makes three excellent observations, which I have highlighted in green, red, and blue:
“I fear I may have hijacked this thread somewhat.
So let’s try and get back on point.
It’s probably true that Johnny doesn’t know which end of the hammer to hold.
But I reject out-of-hand the idea, expressed elsewhere in the thread, that this is because things are simply not repairable or serviceable like they used to be, and the reason that Johhny can’t fix things is that things can’t be fixed anymore, or that repair parts aren’t available like they used to be.
As an inveterate fixer and repairer myself, I know this is untrue, and the reasons are two-fold – the staggering ease with which you can now locate repair data and spare parts, and the availability of tools and equipment that the average fix-it maven could only dream of just a few years ago.
I repaired a 10-year-old Echo weedwhacker last weekend. Needed a carb rebuild. In 10 minutes flat, I had the complete parts diagram for that exact carb up on my screen, by serial number, the parts ordered, and the brown Santa brought them two days later. Twenty years ago, it would have been a nightmare of parts books and bored countermen at the dealership and we’ll have to order it and three weeks waiting. It wouldn’t have been worth my time to do it. Not anymore! Modern technology and modern business methods have made this a snap. Sure, there’s some things you can’t disassemble or reassemble anymore – but there’s very few things that you can’t repair or rebuild these days, as long as you apply some reasonable economic sense.
I’ll keep on repairing and servicing my 1946 Ford farm tractor for as long as new parts are available. And they are freely available – anything you might need, including a lot of unique parts, for a machine that’s 66 years old. So the idea that repair parts aren’t available like they used to be is likewise bunk.
I think there are three reasons that Johnny doesn’t know which end of the hammer to hold, and they are
– a general disdain among educators for any sort of manual work. The goal that kids are taught to aspire to is a college education, which of course produces lots more jobs for educators.
– an increasing feminization of all levels of the education process, which demeans and marginalizes what have traditionally been seen as ‘male’ activities.
– an increasing lack of fathers. Johnny doesn’t help his dad rotate the tires on the Olds because he only sees his dad one day and one evening a week. Johnny’s life skills are charted by his mother, not his dad.
In the past several years I have worked with a number of young men who fit the third description – no father / single mother. Even when they had enthusiasm for the task, the evident skill set revealed an alienation from what was once a male commonality. Several of these young men didn’t know the basics, like “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, or standard vs Phillips vs Robertson. My basic learning was from other males outside the family unit, but the groundwork or will power came from dad. He couldn’t or wouldn’t do the mechanical stuff but he did do the construction / building stuff. I also like llamas comment about fixing a 60+ year old Ford tractor. I think the vision statement of the Ford tractor division in those days was much different than a tractor company might have today.That ’46 Ford was designed when there was no eBay, no Internet, no “common library”. no FedEx. It is undoubtedly a 2N, 8N, or 9N machine. Here’s an ad from the day-
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