1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 18


1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 18:





            “We will open the normal school next fall.” Mary Simpson, sitting in the conference room of the Magdeburg offices of the Leek family’s new down-time IBM corporation (manual typewriters and mechanical adding machines), put only the slightest emphasis on the word “will.” “Teacher training is a project that we just have to get started.”


            Vanessa Clements nodded; so did Livvie Nielsen. Carol Ann Washaw, who was trying to acquire a library for the project, looked more doubtful. She was universally addressed as “Tiny” by the Grantvillers, a nickname which derived not from her present comfortable girth but rather from the size of the preemie she had been back in 1934.


            “There isn’t any money to open the normal school next fall.” Carolyn Rush, Ben Leek’s daughter and office manager, shook her head. Carolyn brought a lot of perspective to this project—fifteen years as an administrative aide in the Marion County public school system on top of an undergraduate degree in American history. “Normal schools just aren’t glamorous. You can excite the upper nobility and rich merchants about opera, about ballet, libraries, even about these new women’s colleges at the Damenstifte. Those have eye appeal. What’s the prospect of getting them excited about re-treading hundreds or thousands of middle-aged widows and one-legged or one-armed soldiers into grade school teachers? Zilch.”


            Mary Simpson shook her head. “There are some. I just need to talk to the right ones. Preferably, in person. Look, Carolyn, you have been working on this long enough now to have gotten over the idea that all of the down-time wealthy get their kicks out of being oppressors of the oppressed.”


            “I still don’t think that we’re going to get money for this one, Mary. Definitely not any tax money.” Carolyn shook her head. “Even a lot of the people back home in Grantville think that it’s the wrong way to handle the problem. Once we get past the crunch of these first few years, they’re thinking of college-age kids; of full university educations, like the medical school in Jena. A lot of them lived through the years when the school reformers forced women who just had the two-year normal school degree out of the system. There are women in Grantville who were forced out of the system that way. They see it as a step backwards; not just gearing down, but giving up and saying that we’re not going to make it; admitting that we really won’t be able to make this work.”


            Vanessa spoke up. “It’s not, really, a lot different than the teacher training program they’re starting at the middle school, now that they’ve finally faced up to the fact that their existing teachers aren’t immortal and they’d better start getting some new ones into the pipeline.”


            “Notice that they aren’t calling it a normal school. There’s a lot in a name,” Tiny answered.


            “Well, then.” Mary smiled sweetly. “Think of another name. That’s the next assignment for the marketing department. That’s you, Livvie. Community college; teachers’ college. Pick it. Just make sure that the curriculum stays aimed at turning out grade school teachers, K-8. And plan to open on a shoestring. Get Otto Gericke to let you use any unfilled space in the new building for the Magdeburg Gymnasium next year. Admit more people than he gives you space for, to show that the demand is there. While you do that, I’m going to find some money. Real money.”


            “Where do you intend to get it?” Carolyn raised her eyebrows.


            Mary smiled. “From the Wettins; or, at least, through the Wettins, since it appears that we can’t get it from parliament. Through the right Wettins. I’ve been talking to William Wettin’s uncle, Duke Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. He’s been very much involved with education reform projects for twenty years or more. Some of them went all the way up to the Reichstag, the Imperial Diet.”


            “And he,” Carolyn pointed out, “couldn’t ever get any money appropriated for them, either.”


            “He says that William might be some help, at least with the publicity. The two of them can get the members of their Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft—in spite of ‘by their fruits ye shall know them,’ why does a name like “Fruit-bearing Society” strike me as hopelessly absurd?—to write letters and poems and such. Newspaper articles. Create a favorable attitude among the intellectual elite.” Mary Simpson was not easily swayed.


            “Intellectual elites are not noted for having large amounts of excess capital to donate to worthy causes.” Carolyn smiled, but it didn’t take the sting out of her words.


            “They’re tutors to the children of people with excess capital; private secretaries to people with excess capital. Atmosphere helps, too. It will contribute to creating the milieu in which the normal school becomes a charity with eye appeal.”


            “Let’s create a milieu in which we have enough money to pay the faculty their first month’s wages.” Carolyn had a relentless sense of the practical.


            Mary pulled another letter out of her purse. “Yes, let’s. I just heard from Veronica Dreeson. This summer, she is going to the Upper Palatinate to try to retrieve anything that she can from her first husband’s estate. The regent there, Duke Ernst, is William Wettin’s brother. Everything that I’ve been able to find out about him says pretty much one thing. For all his life long, the slightest whiff of chalk dust acted on him like the aroma of Chanel No. 5. He was attracted to proposals for educational reform the way moths are attracted by mating pheromones.”


            “Let me guess,” Carolyn said. “Ronnie Dreeson is afraid that if she goes on this trip by herself, Duke Ernst will want to keep her in Amberg to discuss early childhood education rather than letting her get on with the project of getting her money back. She has invited you to come along and talk schools.”


            “Precisely. And I’m going. As I told my husband John, there’s absolutely no reason to expect any problems. Everybody says that the action this year will be to the north, against the League of Ostend.”


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10 Responses to 1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 18

  1. Thomas Richardson says:

    Hoo boy. Where to start?

    1) I had to stop reading this snippet in the middle to hit the encyclopedia. Turns out, a “normal school” is not “a school that acts normally.” You presume that I already have heard the term, and that I know what it means. Wrong! (I’d like to think I’m not ignorant!) So I’m confused literally from the first sentence of the snippet.

    2) What does it have to do with the price of eggs in Grantville that Carol Ann has been called “Tiny” since birth?

    3) Charles Babbage tried to build an “Analytical Engine” (mechanical computer) in the nineteenth century. He failed, because gear teeth back then could not be machined precisely enough for what he needed. So how can IBM Magdeburg make adding machines using 163x technology?

  2. Mike Albrecht says:

    To Thomas Richardson:

    In response to 3): Babbages analytical engine was a programmable computer whihc an adding machine is not. the first commercial adding machines were introduced by Samuler Burroughs around 1890. They were more along the lines of a mechnical abacus then a computer.

    In response to 1): It must be nice to be so young. “Normal schools” were still around 30 years ago.

  3. Gil Norton says:

    We will open a normal school…
    My mother was an old english teacher. I’d have taken a sharp slap on the back of her head for that.
    It should be We SHALL open. Indicates a definite commitment to do. See Dugout Doug MacArthur, “I SHALL return.”
    In her opinion it was a big grammatical no no, such as confusing “like” and “as”.

    Gil Norton

  4. Timothy Kirby says:

    The Magdeburg IBM could make the machines if the parts were made in Grantville with the Lathes and such machinery still in existence in Grantville from the ring of fire or if such machines were reproduced for the company to be used in Magdeburg. I’m not sure what quality of steel would be needed for said parts and machines, but I believe that it was stated that the iron works, that are getting ready to be restarted, made many different kinds of steels. So it is a possibility. But then I could be wrong. Mass production is a necessity for anything that will be used by the average citizen, though. Otherwise, it would only be for the rich nobility. So using Henry Ford’s assembly line idea would be a necessity.

  5. Timothy Kirby says:

    By the way, they can use existing religous schools to start from and inlarge them into public schools. Religous schools, especially by protestants and their desire that the common man be able to read the Bible in his own language is the foundation for the later government-operated Public school systems, which Dewey worked off of, due to his disregard for religion, especially Christianity. Also, use the theological universities in existence for adding teaching degrees for elementary and secondary schools. All your major universities began as Theological schools that added on other degree studies, since Theology was viewed as the supreme of all studies by protestants and catholics alike. Just add your degrees, as has been done with the medical, and increase the “who” that is paid for to enter the elementary and secondary schools.

  6. Thomas Richardson says:

    Timothy Kirby — I was presuming that Grantville’s machine shops would have all the work that they could handle, with the number-one-priority job of protecting Grantville’s infrastructure. They’d have no resources left for IBM Magdeburg. Besides, whatever IBM Magdeburg manufactured, there would be a continent-wide demand for, which means that the stuff would have to be machined by downtimers — lots and lots of downtimers, with no access to electricity.

    In previous stories it has been established that downtimers can make telegraph keys, but not telephones (even circa-1920 telephones), and it was a major challenge to downtimers just to make the parts for a pedal-powered sewing machine. When a Grantviller showed Gustav Adolph a micrometer, and mentioned that the barrels of the cannons just delivered were machined to a thousandth of an inch, GA acted like he’s just been told that the lead-into-gold problem had been solved.

    Artisans can be clever — look what Wilbur and Orville Wright did with bicycle-repairmen’s tools. But there is a major gap between year-2000 manufacturing technology and year-1631 manufacturing technology, and even the cleverest 163x artisan can only nibble away at that gap.

    In short, IBM Magdeburg can make only what downtime artisans can make.

  7. Mike Albrecht says:


    You are grossly over estimating the complexity of adding machines and the like. If local artiseans could make cuckoo clocks (first recognised one made in 1629) and mechnical music boxes (ca. 1650), an adding machine is feasible.

    Also they did make a sewing machine.

  8. Robert Krawitz says:

    Downtime artisans or no, don’t forget that they’ve been learning the uptime techniques — and what’s more, they may not take for granted some things that uptimers do. They know that it’s possible to make high precision gears; it’s just a matter of fine tuning their techniques to improve the precision.

    Wasn’t someone from Grantville going to start a business manufacturing high precision rulers? If you have high precision rulers, it becomes a lot easier to manufacture other high precision devices. Maybe not as easy as with uptime technology, but they’ll find ways. They’ll probably cast the gears and then laboriously file each and every one of them. Uptimers — we, in other words — wouldn’t think to do something like that.

    The problem with telephones was specific — it was the microphone. That was simply entirely different in kind from anything anyone did downtime. Mechanical calculators don’t need huge numbers of accurately sized granules of graphite or anything of that sort — they use gears and levers, which aren’t fundamentally novel.

    There was one short story (I don’t remember which GG it was in) about a Jesuit from England who was sent to Grantville because of his skill as a jeweler, to make fine wire for a radio transmitter based on a very high frequency alternator. The uptimers were all puzzling about how to make something that could rotate in the million RPM range (assuming multiple poles on the rotor, of course), but the priest went to the library, did a lot of research, and determined that the actual way to make this alternator was to use stationary magnets with a large iron rotor with a lot of holes in it to periodically allow the magnetic flux through. If they could punch 10000 holes in the iron ring, and use 8 poles, to get 1 MHz they now need to make an iron ring rotate at something like 700 RPM — a task that could be accomplished with downtime technology. There are plenty of clever people who just need to see that something can be made to exist; they’ll figure out how to make it happen.

    I assume “IBM” stands for “Imperial Business Machines”, by the way.

  9. Michael says:

    when I was studying physics in tuebingen,
    if I remember right, they had a model of a
    “four function” mechanical calculator by
    a professor from tuebingen from BEFORE the 30years war.
    as to gears: the genius in india who came up with
    “algorithms” – the ones you use these days to
    represent numbers – more than two millenia ago,
    made it possible to be “sloppy” on the scale of
    less than one in ten….
    there are so many nifty tricks you CAN learn
    in a german highschool –

  10. Edita says:

    I wanted to add comments regarding the cuckoo clocks that are mentioned in the article. The first cuckoo clocks were built by the middle of the eighteenth century in Germany where several small clockmaking shops produced cuckoo clocks with wooden gears. So the first Black Forest examples were created between 1740 and 1750. They had hand-painted shields.

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