24 Things About to Disappear in America
Friday February 6, 2009
We'll mark this, the 5,000th post on Crunchy Con, which will be three years old this spring, with an interesting list a reader sent in from the Interwebs: 24 Things About to Disappear In America. He said that he couldn't find attribution for it, but if one of you knows where it comes from, please let us know. Take a look at it below the jump, and suggest in the comboxes what No. 25 (or more) should be.
We were watching a not-so-old movie at home not long ago, and my kids saw a character dialing a rotary phone, and had no idea what that thing was.
24. Yellow Pages
This year will be pivotal for the global Yellow Pages industry. Much
like newspapers, print Yellow Pages will continue to bleed dollars to
their various digital counterparts, from Internet Yellow Pages
(IYPs), to local search engines and combination search/listing
services like Reach Local and Yodle Factors like an acceleration of
the print 'fade rate' and the looming recession will contribute to
the onslaught. One research firm predicts the falloff in usage of
newspapers and print Yellow Pages could even reach 10% this year --
much higher than the 2%-3% fade rate seen in past years.
23. Classified Ads
The Internet has made so many things obsolete that newspaper
classified ads might sound like just another trivial item on a long
list. But this is one of those harbingers of the future that could
signal the end of civilization as we know it. The argument is that if
newspaper classifieds are replaced by free online listings at sites
like Craigslist.org and Google Base, then newspapers are not far
22. Movie Rental Stores
While Netflix is looking up at the moment, Blockbuster keeps closing
store locations by the hundreds. It still has about 6,000 left
across the world, but those keep dwindling and the stock is down
considerably in 2008, especially since the company gave up a quest of
Circuit City. Movie Gallery, which owned the Hollywood Video brand,
closed up shop earlier this year. Countless small video chains and
mom-and-pop stores have given up the ghost already.
21. Dial-up Internet Access
Dial-up connections have fallen from 40% in 2001 to 10% in 2008. The
combination of an infrastructure to accommodate affordable high speed
Internet connections and the disappearing home phone have all but
pounded the final nail in the coffin of dial-up Internet access.
20. Phone Landlines
According to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics,
at the end of 2007, nearly one in six homes was cell-only and, of
those homes that had landlines, one in eight only received calls on
19. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
Maryland's icon, the blue crab, has been fading away in Chesapeake
Bay. Last year Maryland saw the lowest harvest (22 million
pounds) since 1945. Just four decades ago the bay produced 96 million
pounds. The population is down 70% since 1990, when they first did a
formal count. There are only about 120 million crabs in the bay and
they think they need 200 million for a sustainable population.
Over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and global warming get the
For the better part of three decades, the VCR was a best-seller and
staple in every American household until being completely
decimated by the DVD, and now the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). In fact,
the only remnants of the VHS age at your local Wal-Mart or Radio Shack
are blank VHS tapes these days. Pre-recorded VHS tapes are largely gone
and VHS decks are practically
nowhere to be found. They served us so well.
17. Ash Trees
In the late 1990s, a pretty, iridescent green species of beetle, now
known as the emerald ash borer, hitched a ride to North America with
ash wood products imported from eastern Asia. In less than a decade,
its larvae have killed millions of trees in the Midwest, and continue
to spread. They've killed more than 30 million ash trees in
southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Ohio
and Indiana. More than 7.5 billion ash trees are currently at risk.
(Number 17 explains why MLB and Louisville Slugger are experimenting
with Maple in place of Ash to mill Major League Baseball bats...much
to the horror of pitchers and infielders who are in the trajectory of
a shattered bat.)
16. Ham Radio
Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless
communications with each other and are able to support
their communities with emergency and disaster communications if
necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and
radio theory. However, proliferation of the Internet and its popularity
among youth has caused the decline of amateur radio. In the past five
years alone, the number of people holding active ham radio licenses has
dropped by 50,000, even though Morse Code is no longer a requirement.
15. The Swimming Hole
Thanks to our litigious society, swimming holes are becoming a thing
of the past. '20/20' reports that swimming hole owners, like Robert
Every in High Falls, NY, are shutting them down out of worry that if
someone gets hurt they'll sue. And that's exactly what happened in
Seattle. The city of Bellingham was sued by Katie Hofstetter who was
paralyzed in a fall at a popular swimming hole in Whatcom Falls Park.
As injuries occur and lawsuits follow, expect more swimming holes to
post 'Keep out!' signs.
14. Answering Machines
The increasing disappearance of answering machines is directly tied
to No 20 our list -- the decline of landlines. According to USA
Today, the number of homes that only use cell phones jumped 159%
between 2004 and 2007. It has been particularly bad in New York;
since 2000, landline usage has dropped 55%. It's logical that as cell
phones rise, many of them replacing traditional landlines, that there
will be fewer answering machines.
13. Cameras That Use Film
It doesn't require a statistician to prove the rapid disappearance of
the film camera in America. Just look to companies like Nikon,
the professional's choice for quality camera equipment. In 2006, it
announced that it would stop making film cameras, pointing to the
shrinking market -- only 3% of its sales in 2005, compared to 75% of
sales from digital cameras and equipment.
12. Incandescent Bulbs
Before a few years ago, the standard 60-watt (or, yikes, 100-watt)
bulb was the mainstay of every U.S. home. With the green movement and
all-things-sustainable-energy crowd, the Compact Fluorescent Light
bulb (CFL) is largely replacing the older, Edison-era incandescent
bulb. The EPA reports that 2007 sales for Energy Star CFLs nearly
doubled from 2006, and these sales accounted for approximately 20
percent of the U.S. light bulb market. And according to USA Today, a
new energy bill plans to phase out incandescent bulbs in the next
four to 12 years.
11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys
BowlingBalls.US claims there are still 60 million Americans who bowl
at least once a year, but many are not bowling in stand-alone bowling
alleys. Today most new bowling alleys are part of facilities for all
types or recreation including laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, video
game arcades, climbing walls and glow miniature golf. Bowling lanes
also have been added to many non-traditional venues such as adult
communities, hotels and resorts, and gambling casinos.
10. The Milkman
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1950, over half
of the milk delivered was to the home in quart bottles, by 1963, it
was about a third and by 2001, it represented only 0.4% percent.
Nowadays most milk is sold through supermarkets in gallon jugs. The
steady decline in home-delivered milk is blamed, of course, on the
rise of the supermarket, better home refrigeration and longer-lasting
milk. Although some milkmen still make the rounds in pockets of the
U.S., they are certainly a dying breed.
9. Hand-Written Letters
In 2006, the Radicati Group estimated that, worldwide, 183 billion
e-mails were sent each day. Two million each second. By November of
2007, an estimated 3.3 billion Earthlings owned cell phones, and 80%
of the world's population had access to cell phone coverage. In 2004,
half-a-trillion text messages were sent, and the number has no doubt
increased exponentially since then. So where amongst this gorge of
gabble is there room for the elegant, polite hand-written letter?
8. Wild Horses
It is estimated that 100 years ago, as many as two million horses
were roaming free within the United States. In 2001, National
Geographic News estimated that the wild horse population had decreased
to about 50,000 head. Currently, the National Wild Horse and Burro
Advisory board states that there are 32,000 free roaming horses in ten
Western states, with half of them residing in Nevada. The Bureau of Land
Management is seeking to reduce the total number of free range horses to
27,000, possibly by selective euthanasia.
7. Personal Checks
According to an American Bankers Assoc. report, a net 23% of
consumers plan to decrease their use of checks over the next two
years, while a net 14% plan to increase their use of PIN debit. Bill
payment remains the last stronghold of paper-based payments -- for
the time being. Checks continue to be the most commonly used bill
payment method, with 71% of consumers paying at least one recurring
bill per month by writing a check. However, on a bill-by-bill basis,
checks account for only 49% of
consumers' recurring bill payments (down from 72% in 2001 and 60% in 2003).
6. Drive-in Theaters
During the peak in 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters
in this country, but in 2007 only 405 drive-ins were still
operating. Exactly zero new drive-ins have been built since 2005. Only
one reopened in 2005 and ive reopened in 2006, so there isn't much of a
movement toward reviving the closed ones.
5. Mumps & Measles
Despite what's been in the news lately, the measles ad mumps actually,
truly are disappearing from the United States. In 1964,
212,000 cases of mumps were reported in the U.S. By 1983, this figure
had dropped to 3,000, thanks to a vigorous vaccination program. Prior to
the introduction of the measles vaccine, approximately half a million
cases of measles were reported in the U.S. annually, resulting in 450
deaths. In 2005, only 66 cases were recorded.
4. Honey Bees
Perhaps nothing on our list of disappearing America is so dire;
plummeting so enormously; and so necessary to the survival of our
food supply as the honey bee. Very scary. 'Colony Collapse Disorder,'
or CCD, has spread throughout the U.S. and Europe over the past few
years, wiping out 50% to 90% of the colonies of many beekeepers --
and along with it, their livelihood.
3. News Magazines and TV News
While the TV evening newscasts haven't gone anywhere over the last
several decades, their audiences have. In 1984, in a story about the
diminishing returns of the evening news, the New York Times reported
that all three network evening-news programs combined had only 40.9
million viewers. Fast forward to 2008, and what they have today is
2. Analog TV
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 85% of homes in
the U.S. get their television programming through cable or satellite
providers. For the remaining 15% -- or 13 million individuals -- who
are using rabbit ears or a large outdoor antenna to get their local
stations, change is in the air. If you are one of these people you'll
need to get a new TV or a converter box in order to get the new
stations which will only be broadcast in digital.
1. The Family Farm
Since the 1930s, the number of family farms has been declining
rapidly. According to the USDA, 5.3 million farms dotted the nation in
1950, but this number had declined to 2.1 million by the 2003 farm
census (data from the 2007 census hasn't yet been published).
Ninety-one percent of the U.S. farms are small family farms.