To continue the exercise started earlier:
The way laundry works here is you have a laundry machine in your residence and air dry your clothes. Not having a half dozen children to cloth and an aversion to fitting too many things in the habitation module that I cannot easily carry or roll to a new location, I started out availing myself of the local lavaderos. Back in old country there were businesses called laundry mats where you fed a coin operated machine anywhere from 5 to 16 quarters and it carried out its task. In Uruguay where consumer and capital goods are precious and no one has cared enough to develop a way to automate coin handling we have laverderos instead. Your lavadero rents a space that could have otherwise been a kiosko and stuffs it full of washing and drying machines.
The first few times you visit a lavadero they will follow instructions including "don't spray my clothes with that water/perfume shit that quickly smells like ass for the reason you dampened the once dry clothes before sealing your plastic bag airtight" or "please just place my clothes in this breathable laundry bag I acquired for the purpose because this is a humid city and I hate mildew like you hate [other futbol team]" about 50% of the time. Those that follow instructions will even offer a pickup time for those first few visits that they will actually be in their laundry kiosk with your clean clothes that haven't been suffocating in a plastic bag for too long. Eventually the lavadero has a failure mode where they get comfortable counting on your 160 to 180 pesos per load and they then slack on instruction compliance and delivery times.
In parallel to the local laundry profession failing, Gloria the Peruana of Cleanliness had been bleaching my whites in a bucket because the local launderast profession didn't meet her standard for such things. This lead me into experimenting with contemporary commercial powedered detergents for "lavado a mano" and the discovery that getting clean clothes out of a bucket in the shower takes less active time than clean floors or taking my clothes to a lavadero and later retrieving them. When combined with a "tenedor de ropa" that fits on the balcony in from of where the AC exhausts waste heat, this machineless arrangement is efficient and effective.
Now with soaps rather than contemporary detergents, the hand laundering process may be marginally more labor intensive, but in this time and place... it beats subsidizing professional lavaderos.
The Flat Heirarchy
Back in the good old days before the insane new age, the fundamental political unit was the household. A household is a unit of social organization centered around a patriarch and includes those persons he allows to reside in his presence on an ongoing basis. The household patriarch's prestigedetermines the relative position of the household in relation to other households. Señor1 Popescu's piece on how Representative Democracy fails to work lay out the enormous coverage in terms of actual representation this arrangement allows to the tune of 8 digit headcounts for a single Senator.
When this arrangement is hacked to bypass mediation, it flattens and eventually devolves into the hellscape dominating social organization at present. Once society is flattened, mass appeals to "Spirit" beat out practical reality at the ballot box. The masses bias towards "not wanting anything bad to happen" over all other concerns due to structural shortcomings of the masses amplified by the flattening of the heirarchy.
The bias towards "nothing bad happening" not only prevents new good things, it forces the unwinding of good things. All of them. The connection between currency and a physical reality broke in under a century.2 Successful societies organized in ways that respect what is now called "Dunbar's number" a limit to the wetware's ability to handle multiple meaningful relationships. In a flat society there's still an order and a heirarchy, but it doesn't allow for as many meaninful relationships. This leads to bus drivers and ranchers at the top engaged in herding while at the bottom you get the herded imagining one way relationships aimed up.
These imaginary one way relationships are visible in the alt-right and alt-alt-right with all the imaginary best friendships with Trump everyone seems to have. With the other socialists this manifests as imaginary friendships with humanity at large.
How this makes eveything suck deserves and shall recieve much more elaboration.
Stick Built Investments
Wood cultures thoughout history have built structures many structures, and with very limited exceptions those structures have lacked permanence. Wood and ground contact don't get along. Even chemically enhanced wood eventually loses the battle to nature when enough preservatives leach out to the point the ground can begin treating the wood as just another chunk of dead tree. For pressure treated softwood timbers popular in the US, this happens in 10-20 years depending on the preservative and the peculiarities of the ground being contacted. For creosote treated timbers used for utility poles, 50+ years are possible but creosote's not something you want to enclose in a residential structure.
Yet in the US mid rise stick built apartment complexes are a thing now. Three to six residental stories are stick built on top of a concrete ground floor "podium" and these mid rises dominate new "urban" construction everywhere that isn't still banning wood construction in dense urban areas. In the US there's also a frequently traded asset class call a Real Estate Investment Trust, these paper assets tend to own a lot of mid rise sticks.
One other downside of wood is that it burns, especially the fast growing softwood species used in US construction. Burning wood changes the substance of the wood chemically and physically. Earlier this month there was a fire in the Edificio Americano in Montevideo. As a result of the fire the building was briefly evacuated, though some residents chose not to. Of those who chose not to evacuate the only ones the firefighters could compel to evacuate were the ones in units exposed to higher concentrations of carbon monoxide. After the fire was extinguished, people went back to their apartments. There's some charring on the building facade, but because the building is made of steel and concrete only the apartment which burned suffered substantial ill effects.
When a stick built structure burns, the structure is compromised. Total loss of the structure is not uncommon, but even fairly well contained fires make substantial structural repairs a necessity. In multi tenant structures you can't count on everyone having smarts or common sense. Fires happen, or pipes leak and when moisture wood gets wet the same problems wood suffers with ground contact emerge. Chronic exposure to even trivial amounts of water can bring "dry" rot, once again necessitating substantial structural repairs. In my own hometown there were several low rise stick built construction "condominiums" and new construction 2 bedroom units would sell for ~80-100 thousand USD while 20 year old two bedroom units of similar square footage would not sell3 for 35-45 thousand USD.
Then there's the US single family home racket. Many tears are shed in local papers across the US when one of the few surviving "Victorian" houses comes down. Nevermind the many similar structures that failed before then or the untenable proposition of trying to "preserve" a failing pine structure.
- The Spanish title Señor does not at all map onto the English title Mister in the way pushed by "language learning" materials. In any self respecting Latin American church they worship Señor Dios. Do you know any Anglophone churches holding services to a "Mister God" anywhere? [↩]
- 1873 marked an inflection point where enforcing a bimetallic currency would shortly become impossible due to a flood of new silver. The US picked Gold, but the alternate history where the US demonetized gold in 1873 then let the dollar track silver and industrial output more generally is one where some fruit may be mined in speculative fiction. [↩]
- I mean that looking at the local ads from time to time between 2010 and now the same units would be listed, them re-listed but never selling. [↩]