How civilization will end

Phil Philmt59 at
Fri Feb 24 18:45:59 CST 2012

My Dad was a skilled amateur carpenter, and my school taught me proper engineering and materials skills alongside maths, science and languages. In British schools nowadays they have "Materials technology" where the kids handle different fabrics and then write an essay on how the materials make them 'feel'. My son was awarded 90% for 'electronics' for building a LED torch from a kit. This mark surprised him, because he was off sick and never actually built it. He couldn't be bothered, because he'd built better things with me when he was eight…

Nobody in the UK, except possibly Brian Hawes and myself, knows how to wire a mains plug anymore. They're not allowed to do it because it is dangerous and they don't know how, and they don't know how to do it safely because they've never been allowed to do it. I wired my first mains plug at the age of seven, taught by my father, who then gave me a brass screwdriver his dad gave him when he was a boy, and told me it was my job to wire all the plugs in the house when necessay from then on. Nobody died by electric shock in our house.

The first thing I did when I first came across cyanoacrylate superglue was to deliberately put a tiny dab on my forefinger  and press my thumb to it. I figured I needed to know how strong it was, and it was worth losing some skin just to find out. I was impressed by the glue, but a little disappointed that my finger and thumb finally separated without injury.

Phil M1GWZ

On 25 Feb 2012, at 00:09, Bob Rice, KG4RRN wrote:

> thank god my dad was a machinist....who inadvertantly helped the Iranian
> Engineering students back in the 80's have university degrees which they will use to 'start WWIII.....
> Bob Rice, KG4RRN
> President, Jefferson Co. WV.
> Amateur Radio Club
> --- On Fri, 2/24/12, Phil <Philmt59 at> wrote:
> From: Phil <Philmt59 at>
> Subject: How civilization will end
> To: "AMRAD AMRAD" <tacos at>
> Date: Friday, February 24, 2012, 6:43 PM
> Dear Tacoistas
> As my long-suffering friends already know, being a University academic isn't always what it's cracked up to be. However, it does occasionally give insights into society and culture that might otherwise have passed unnoticed. Today, for example, I discovered the ultimate fate of civilization.
> A final-year chemistry undergraduate came to me with a problem. How best to seal an aqueous gel electrolyte between two electrodes so as to prevent it from drying out? He'd tried tape but, poor lad, he has fingers like sausages and the final packaging was insufficient. He was stumped.
> I suggested first that he try a thin fillet of superglue around the periphery. He dutifully wrote this idea down in his lab notebook. Then I said, better still, use a quick-setting epoxy resin. He asked me how to spell "epoxy", then asked, "Does this stuff go by any other name?"
> Yes, I replied surprised, it's called Araldite, but you need 'Araldite Rapid'. He asked me if I would spell "Araldite". Had he never used epoxy glues before? No. Did he know what superglue is? "Yes", came the reply, "but I've never actually used it." Had he ever used glue? "Of course" he replied, "but probably not since I left junior school."
> My son is a sophomore undergraduate, reading philosophy and political science. His interests are Descartes and Hegel, but I'd be ashamed of both of us if he couldn't choose the right glue to carry out an emergency repair.
> So, there you have it. In one more generation, civilization will not just collapse, but literally fall to pieces.
> [Incidentally, another student knew all about superglue and Araldite, but pointed out that they were both 'dangerous' because superglue will glue your skin together permanently, and epoxy resins are carcinogenic. I guess the manufacturers of "No More Nails" made entirely the wrong decision.]
> Phil M1GWZ
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