The Basic Teacher
|degree||power||male - female|
MEN AND MACHINES
The invention of machines has given men the power to do much more than was possible in the times when everything had to be made by hand. With the help of machines we are producing not only more goods, but a much wider range of goods, than ever before. Every year we are making greater and better machines so that goods may be produced at a greater rate, and the day may not be far away when everyone will have enough for his needs and all will be living in comfort. These are the facts which we have in mind when we say that machines are the servants of man. But it is not surprising that to the workers it sometimes seems that they are the servants of the machines.
In the morning, when a steam whistle is sounded, long lines of men and women go into the works and take their laces at the machines. At the door, every worker puts a card with his name on it into an automatic apparatus worked by a clock, which makes a record of the time at which he comes to work. At night the time at which he goes is recorded in the same way. Out in the street there may be sunlight and green trees and the songs of birds, but inside the works all is motion and noise. Here the workers are nothing but asses of metal which have been given strange forms by man -- great structures of iron and steel, moving wheels and bands and rollers. A great
number of these men and women are probably working by electric light. The air is overheated and there is a smell of oil. Day and night the machines have to be kept in motion. In this building there is never any rest. When one group of workers goes, another group takes its place, and the machines go on without stop.
To a newcomer, it might seem at first as if all these men and women were working without direction. But after a little observation he would see that he was wrong. Everywhere there are signs of the expert organization which is needed to keep up the output of goods and make a profit. All the details have, in fact, been worked out with the greatest care by the controlling brains responsible for the smooth working of this great unit of industry. They have a knowledge of the motions necessary for every operations, and they are able to say how long the different operations take, in what order it is best for them to be done, and so on. Another thing which has to be fixed is the rate of work. If the workers are not given enough rest or are made to be very quick, they get overtired and do less or poorer work at the end of the day. That moving band, for example, which is taking groups of parts past a line of girls for them to put together, is moving at a fixed rate. Every girl does only one small operation. One girl puts a screw in, another put on the nut, and so on. Their motions, which long experience has made automatic, have a regular rhythm and they are all working together in harmony. There is enough time for their expert fingers to do what is needed but no time for talking or looking round. If the band went more slowly the output would be poor. If it went more quickly, the attempt to keep up with the machines would make the girls tired and they would have to be given a rest. Automatic work, such as this, is very uninteresting, and so sometimes music is played to keep the girls bright. The rhythm of the music is a help to their work.
All decisions are made by the manager and his group of experts, who give their orders to the workers. but it is hard for a small group of men to keep in touch with every part of a great organization, and so the experts are helped by a committee of workers' representatives. Though this committee has no authority to make decisions, it takes part in discussions, and its suggestions about ways of increasing output or making conditions better are frequently of great value. It is responsible for seeing that the interests of the workers are not overlooked, and if changes are made -- for example, in the scale of payments -- which do not have their approval, it is its business to make a protest. Sometimes, when something is being done which is causing trouble, it is able to get the manager to put a stop to it. There is a tendency for thee committees to be given more power than they had when they were first formed, and some workers have this hope that, through their representatives, they and the owners may one day have equal control.
Some operations are done best my male workers and others by female workers. Men take care of the machines and do the work for which it is
necessary to have strong muscles. Women are not as good as men at lifting things of great weight, or working in great heat, or doing operations for which a strong grip is needed or force has to be used in pushing and pulling. On the other had, they are very expert at the more delicate work and they frequently do it more quickly and make less errors than men.
In this place much important work is done by women. They make small parts which have to be measured with the greatest care. For this purpose they make use of a scale on which very small degrees are marked. Every part has to be tested when it has been made, and if the size is wrong by an amount no thicker than a finger-nail it is of no use. Polishing processes are done by women and they put parts together to make apparatuses and do electric wiring. Girls are used for the less expert work of folding the printed directions which go with every apparatus and putting the apparatuses into cardboard boxes.
Most of the work the men do is hard physical work. You see them at the great machines where masses of iron are put through rollers till they are as flat and almost as thin as paper. You see them working the controls of the machine cutters which go through metal as if it was cheese. Some of the metal is given a form by the operations of a stamp of great weight. Some of it is heated till it is liquid and then put into vessels of the desired form to get cold and hard again. Masses of metal have to be taken across from one machine to another for the different processes, and when the goods are ready they have to be taken down in lifts to the lowest floor of the building and made into parcels or put into wood boxes. All this work is done by men. And men are needed to take care of the fires for heating the great boilers, by which steam-power is produced in the engines to keep the machines in motion. The engines are the heart of the works, sending power, like blood, through every part of it. Working with their shirts off in the orange light of the flames, the men go on, hour after hour, putting coal into the fires with their spades. Their faces and arms and chests become black with coal-dust.
Other men are responsible for the care of the machines. They go round all day oiling and cleaning them. If they did not keep them clean, the machines would quickly come to a stop. Even a grain of sand or dust, if it gets in the wrong place, may be a cause of trouble. Sometimes a part get loose or out of position and an adjustment has to be made. These men and the workers using the machines have to take care to keep their hands and their clothing away from the moving parts. Everything possible has been done to make the machines safe, and special structures have been put round them. Rules for working them safely are pinned up on the walls. But though the danger is made less in this way, it is not completely overcome, and if the workers do not have quick reactions, they may be pulled into a machine by their clothing, or their fingers may be give a crush by the rollers or cut off by one of the sharp blades.
While goods are being produced by the workers at the machines, men and women with greater education and knowledge are working in a separate
building on the inventions of new and better processes. In the rooms where they do their work, there are shelves full of bottles with long names printed on them, every one of which has some different chemical substance inside it. They have machines made on a small scale and a great amount of apparatus for testing. If anything is needed for their work they have only to make a request for it ; and they get good payment, because the future of the industry is dependent on their inventions.
the invention of machines : The noun invention is used both for what is invented and for the act of inventing.
by hand : Note this idiomatic phrase used when by hands or by the hands might have been expected.
not only more goods, but . . . : Note this construction. But here introduces an additional fact.
produced at a greater rate : Note the idiomatic use of at. When indicating the rate of some activity, we say that it takes place at a certain rate. At is used similarly with price (At what price did you get the goods ?)
far away == far distance. This phrase is frequently used in place of far alone.
the servants of man : The singular man may be used as a collective in the sense of 'the human race', and the plural men may be used in the same sense.
steam whistle : That is, a whistle operated by steam.
sounded : An instrument is sounded when it is 'caused to make a sound'. Sounding may correspondingly mean 'causing (some instrument) to make a sound', and also (of instruments) 'giving out sound'.
take their places == go to their allotted positions.
worked by a clock : A piece of machinery, etc., is said to be working when it is operating, and whatever is causing it to operate is said to be working it (see 'the smooth working' -- the noun corresponding to the former adjective -- and 'working the controls', later in this Step). Thus, worked by == operated by.
rollers : Roller == 'turning cylinder', from roll in the expanded sense of 'motion of turning over and over'. Rolling is either 'performing or causing to perform this motion' or 'flattening with a roller' or 'forming into a roll'.
working by electric light : By is, of course, used here in the sense of 'by the help of'.
overheated : One of the senses of over is 'more than' (under having the opposite sense 'less than') used with numbers and measurements, which comes from the idea of degree as represented by a vertical scale. In this sense, it frequently forms compounds, especially with adjectives, giving the sense of 'to an excessive degree'. Compare overtired, which occurs later in this Step.
day and night == in the day and at night. Note this phrase.
in motion == Motion is regarded as a condition which something may be in.
newcomer : Here, the sense is 'stranger, person coming for the first time'. Sometimes the word is used for referring to a person who has just arrived.
without direction : by expansion, direction is the guiding control which gives a direction to an activity.
output == amount produced by, put out from, a works.
worked out : The process of solving problem by reasoning is described as working it out, that is, 'doing the detailed work necessary to bring out or express the answer'. Out has a general use with appropriate adjectives and operators to give the idea of 'open to view' (as against being put away, covered, folded, hidden or private) : Put those letters out on the table ; How did the news get out ? We have had another special example of this in "The flowers are out" (Step 20).
the smooth working : Progress along a smooth road is easy and unimpeded, and so, by expansion, smooth has come to be used, as here, of activities, etc., in the sense of 'easy, without obstruction'.
in what order . . . to be done : Note that when a group of things has a certain order they are said to be in that order. Similarly when we do them, etc., according to same sequence, we do them in that order.
has to be fixed : Here, fixed == 'arranged, settled'. What is fixed in the physical sense is not readily moved, and a plan, etc., which has been decided upon is similarly not readily changed. Sometimes fixed == 'unvarying', as in at a fixed rate below.
are made to be very quick : Note that make in the Passive is followed by to and the root form of an operator ; when in the Active, the latter would follow without to. The same thing is true of see (He was seen to do it).
taking . . . parts past a line : Past has a use as a preposition in the sense of 'beyond' (of place or time ; the house is past the station, it is past your bed-time). Going, etc., past something is 'passing' it. Past may also be used adverbially in this sense with operators etc. of motion (the days go past slowly).
puts on the nut : The name nut is given to the small hard object, sometimes nut-like in shape which is fixed on the end of a screw.
which long experience has made automatic : When an action is done almost unconsciously in response to a stimulus, it resembles the automatic reaction of a machine, and is described as automatic.
keep up with == keep one's rate of progress up to that of something else, so as to be with it.
who give their orders : by expansion, order == command. On the parade ground, men are frequently commanded to get into a certain order, and so it is easy to see how commands in general have come to be called orders.
a great organization : In its root sense, organization is an activity or state, but the word is also used for an 'organized body'.
takes part in : by expansion, a part in a play is a role and a part in some work or activity is a person's share in it. From this, we get the idiom take part (in), meaning 'participate (in)'.
responsible for seeing that : to see that a thing is done is to 'ensure that' it is done, by supervising others or by doing it oneself.
the interests of the workers : A person naturally feels an interest in that which is profitable or advantageous to him, and so that which is to one's profit or advantage is called one's interest. In this sense, it is more often used in the plural.
overlooked == neglected, not noticed, not given attention. When we are looking over a wall or piece of ground to get a view of something else, we tend not to notice the wall, etc., itself. So the compound overlooking comes to be used for the act of neglecting something in our physical or mental field of view.
causing == being a cause of. Caused == 'produced by (as) a cause'.
put a stop to == stop (an activity, condition, etc.).
gives more power : The root sense of power is 'being able to do, in a position to do', and so power is frequently used for authority, which is the special power that comes from being in a position to command or control, by legal or other right.
through their representatives : Through may be used, as here, in the sense of ' by means of ', ' by the agency of '. The representatives are thought of as the channel through which the control is exercised.
more delicate work : Delicate work is work needing care, as a delicate structure needs care when it is handled.
measured : Measuring == getting the measure of.
make use of a scale : By expansion, a scale is a line divided into equal units for measuring purposes, or, as here, a measuring-instrument marked in this way.
marked : Marking == putting a mark or marks on. To say that degrees are marked on a scale means that they are represented on the scale by marks.
wiring == 'fixing wire or wires in something', especially, as here, for electrical purposes.
printed directions == : printed instructions. A person who is responsible for direction of something is in the habit of giving such directions. In this sense the word is always used in the plural.
cardboard == A sort of stiff card, firm like a board.
working the controls : A controlling mechanism is called a control.
machine cutters == cutters worked by machinery.
by the operation of a stamp : That is, 'by operating a stamp'. In addition to being an 'impression', a stamp may be an instrument for making impressions or (as here) cutting out shapes by stamping.
taken down in lifts : The name lift is given to an 'elevator', which is a lifting-apparatus.
steam-power : The driving force of machinery is called power. It gives the machinery the power to operate. Steam-power is the driving force create by steam.
orange light : As an adjective, orange is used to describe the colour of an orange. The noun orange may also be used as the name of this colour.
come to a stop : An idiom meaning 'stop'.
overcome == conquered. The origin of this compound probably lies in the military association between the overrunning (literally, coming over) or a country by an invading army and its conquest.
given a crush : Note that the operator give is used with crush.
working on : This idiomatic on points to the thing which the work is designed to produce. Builders do their work on a building they are working on.
machines made on a small scale : That is, machines which are smaller than machines of normal size but with the same proportions. Note the idiomatic use of on with scale. This construction is also used, more loosely, to give a rough indication of magnitude (the organization was on a small scale).
the future of the industry : any particular branch of industry is called an industry. Thus we get the steel industry, the boot and shoe industry, the coal industry, etc. The future of the industry == the prospects, future developments of the industry. Past may similarly be used for the 'past history' of a person or thing.
The sense of the compound word coal-dust is clear without a note.
1 . State in Basic the act or fact which is illustrated in each of the above pictures, introducing at least one new word into each statement.
2 . Change the parts of the following sentences in black print without altering the sense :
(a) There is one detail of the organization which has not been given attention.
(b) Is there any way of stoping the motion of the wheels ?
(c) When the girl saw the great machines, she had the natural reaction of a person coming to the place for the first time.
(d) The engine has become more heated than is good for it.
(e) We all have to get the better of our cruel impulses.
(f) More goods have been produced this year than were produced last year.
3 . Use the following in sentences :
(a) lifted (d) marking
(b) increasing ( e) testing
(c) caused (f) roller
4 . Explain the connection between two senses of each of the following :
(a) roll (d) order
(b) nut (e) fixed
5 . Put an operator before each of these nouns :
(a) crush (d) damage
(b) attempt (e) slip
6 . Describe in Basic some of the things that one would see in a printing works.
7 . Translate into Basic : Teacher Link
8 . Answer in Basic :
(a) How are the times at which the workers come and go recorded ?
< Step 32
Step 34 >
(b) What do the workers see inside the works ?
(c) Why are we producing more goods now than we did in the past ?
(d) What is needed in a works to keep up the output of goods ?
(e) What are some of the questions to which the men responsible for the works are able to give an answer ?
(f) Why are the exerts helped by a workers; committee ?
(g) What is this committee responsible for doing ?
(h) Why is music sometimes played when the girls are at work ?
(i) How is the work done by girls who put parts together ?
(j) Which workers do the hard physical work and which workers do the delicate work ?
(l) How is the metal given a form ?
(m) What are fires needed for ?
(n) How are the goods taken down to the lowest floor of the building ?
(o) How are the machines kept in good condition ?
(p) Why is it necessary for workers at the machines to have quick reactions?
(q) What does one see in the rooms where new inventions are made ?