Can any of you, dear readers, do the following?

Bake a loaf of bread.

Sew a shirt.

Knit a jumper.

Fix your car when it breaks down.

Build a house (or a shed).

I can confidently tick the first three. After that, I admit, my knowledge is extremely hazy. I can work out which end of a hammer to use to hang a picture, and that’s about it.

I can make a loaf of bread in my bread maker, but I buy the yeast, flour, salt and oil, the tin I bake it in, and expect my oven to be automatically warmed by gas or electricity. I doubt if I could bake a loaf of bread like my grandmother did, by kneading it on the kitchen table and cooking it in a wood-fired oven. I have no idea how to grind flour from wheat, or extract yeast from the beer-making process.

Similarly, I can knit a jumper, but I can’t spin or dye wool, or shear a sheep.

I'm probably about as handy, in the sense of being able to feed, clothe and house myself, as most people in my age group in Western society, and more handy than the next generation, or the one after that.

What are the implications of this? ...continue reading "The Fragility of Technology"


For those of you who haven't met me in person, I studied history as a mature aged student at the University of Tasmania. At one time I considered making history my career, but as the wise man said, life is what happens when we are making plans, and that plan never came to fruition. However, I remain fascinated by history in all its many forms.

When I was a small child my father told me true stories passed on, generation to generation, in his family. These were not fiction, but oral histories in their most authentic form. One in particular stays in my mind to this day. ...continue reading "Thinking About History"