Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Last night was uneventful: just work, then getting ready for youth group tonight. Not much exciting on tap for today; just work and youth group. At least I don't have to worry about school tomorrow. I'll be gone all day Saturday, so I can use Thursday to do a lot of the stuff I usually do on Saturday.


Looks like my prediction last week about Fallujah was wrong; it is now an occupied city. I'm sure we will get beat up pretty badly due to the deaths of "innocent" civilians. My faith in our military leadership has been partially and conditionally restored. We'll see what finally shakes out of this.

I also predicted a couple weeks ago that the Spain bombing was just the beginning. I would have liked to have been wrong, but it doesn't sound like it. At least alertness and police work have kept deaths and injuries to a bare minimum. However, the longer this goes on, the better the bombers will get at hiding themselves and their bombs, and, like the U.S. learned on 9/11, it doesn't matter how many hundreds of attacks you prevent; everyone remembers the one that got through.


This article gives a good summary of some of the recent data from various Mars orbiters and probes, and where we go from here.

And a little something for those that think life was simpler a hundred years ago:

Total U.S. population in 1900 was 76 million people, less than a third the population we have now. Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California; with a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union. (The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.) The American flag had 45 stars; Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

Life expectancy at birth was 47 years, and the infant mortality rate is high: 140 of every 1000 babies born will die in their first year (these days, fewer than 10 in 1000 die) Yet more than 95% of all live births in the US took place at home.

Flu, pneumonia, typhoid, gastritis, and whooping cough were common causes of death. The five leading causes of death in the US were: 1.) Pneumonia & Influenza 2.) Tuberculosis 3.) Diarrhea 4.) Heart disease and 5.) Stroke

90% of all US physicians had NO college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

The dollar was a defined (not floating) unit of currency; there was NO income tax; there was NO central bank (i.e., Federal Reserve). But the United States was a rising economic powerhouse and was the wealthiest economy in the world: per capita income was on the same level as Britain and Australia, was twice that of France and Germany, and was quadruple the standard of living in Japan and Mexico.

Still, most Americans in 1904 were living in what we today would consider poverty. Per capita American income in 1904 averaged around $5000 [in present-day dollars], less than one-fifth the current level. In other words, the typical American in 1904 had about the same income as a typical Mexican today. The average wage in the US was $0.22/hour; the average US worker made between $200-$400/year; A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000/year, a dentist $2,500/year, a veterinarian between $1,500-$4,000/year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000/year. Sugar cost $0.04/pound. Eggs were $0.14/dozen. Coffee cost $0.15/pound.

A man's typical on-the-job work week consisted of 60 hours of work, spread over six days. Pensions were rare; men generally worked until they were too feeble to go on doing so. Two-thirds of men over 65 still worked full-time jobs. Women made up only 18% of the paid work force. They mainly worked in textiles, apparel, shoes, canning - fields where you were paid according to how much you produced.

At home, women spent an average of 40 hours a week on meal preparation and meal cleanup, seven hours on laundry, and another seven hours on housecleaning. The average housewife baked a half a ton of bread-about 1400 loaves-per year. 18% of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

Only about a third of American homes had running water, only 15% had flush toilets, only 14% of the homes in the US had a bathtub, and half of farm households didn't even have an outhouse. Most women washed their hair only once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Only 3% of American homes were lit by electricity; only 8% of the homes had a telephone (a three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00) 50% of all people’s living spaces averaged more than one person per room; taking in lodgers was common.

Most people lived within a mile of where they worked, and depended on their feet to get them around; only 20% of urban households owned a horse. There were only 8,000 automobiles in the US, and only 144 miles of paved roads; the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Coca Cola contained cocaine; marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Half the population drank alcohol; half didn’t. The half that did drink averaged two hard drinks and two beers per day; wine consumption was minimal. By contrast, in Europe, people drank twice as much beer, and averaged more than four glasses of wine a day.

[Only] 10% of the American population was completely illiterate, and the average adult had an 8th grade education; only 7% of students would ever complete high school.

[compiled from and]

And that's pretty much a wrap.

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