The Luddite's Gift Guide

With all the hur-de-hur about technological gadgets on these very pages, I submit to you that there is one subset of the community that is underserved by our constant reportage: the Luddite. To that end, I propose a short exploration of the Luddite’s psyche and suggest a few possible items for their consumption this Holiday period.

The term Luddite comes from Ned Ludd, the mythical or at least apocryphal head of a group of anti-technologists from the 18th century. Ludd, a weaver, grew so agitated by his working conditions one day that he beat some weaving frames into a “heap.” Like “Notme” and “Ida Know” of Family Circus fame, the refrain “Ned Ludd did it” became the comic excuse for broken gear in the 19th century.

So what about modern Luddites? It seems to me the modern Luddite is tired of computers. He or she needs something tangible, usable, and extremely inexpensive. Yet he/she doesn’t want to end up on the wrong end of a homemade blunderbuss when the end times come and he’s raiding someone’s log cabin for MREs. He’s (or she’s) not a survivalist but is looking for a way to survive in an increasingly complex world. Here’s what you should buy them with your RFID-chipped credit card or via Paypal.

Paper – Etsy has paper out the wazoo, including this hand-marbled paper that will give their wild-eyed letters to the editor that special frisson.

Mokeskine Notebooks – Arguably, this is more paper, but Moleskine notebooks have been the go-to PDA for writers and cranks for almost a century. Give a few to your favorite sketcher and watch his or her eyes light up.

Hamilton Khaki Automatic Chronograph – When the end of technology arrives, do you want to be the dude who is always asking the time? No. You want to be the dude who KNOWS the time. This is an inexpensive (read under $1,000) stock automatic chronograph that should last you most of your life.

The Foxfire Book – Whether you’re waiting for the coming technopocalyse or just want to sit out this stage of our evolution, the best place to go is into the wild. This book will help your Luddite learn to feed, shelter, and lubricate (there’s a chapter on moonshining) themselves while living far from the madding crowd. This is a classic in the genre and helped many a 1960s Baby Boomer get food poisoning and ticks back in the day after “dropping out.”

A Handsome Saw – Everyone needs a handsome saw and unlike the recently trendy “axe” this device offers greater control and finesse over your cutting experience.

3″ Mark of Westminster Ebonized Velites Staunton Chess Pieces – Who needs Kinect when you have the game of kings? You’re obviously going to need a board to go with this handsome $99 chess set with leather bottoms and staunton designs but then again. Perfect for play-by-mail games with distant friends.

A 35mm Camera – Do a quick search on Ebay for “35mm Nikon Camera” and you can find a treasure trove of old shooters that cost less than a new lens for one of those fancy DSLRs.

A Long Ride On the California Zephyr – Relive the magic of rail travel with a long ride on the California Zephyr. It takes 51 hours and 20 minutes to ride from Chicago to Emeryville, CA, so be sure to bring a notebook and your Nikon!