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  • Lost Technology

    where'd they go?

    Except for the 103 degrees of today, when even shorts seem like too much, I usually have to roll up my right pants leg to avoid either getting chain grease on it or worse, a nice big tear. And that’s if you’re lucky, often catching clothes in your chain can send you down to street level quickly. All because for some reason it’s been decided that we don’t need chain guards on bikes anymore. When did this meeting take place? Was that 3 ounces extra really too much, you Lance Armstrongs? And then bike commuters inevitably forget to roll their pants back down and walk around half the day looking extra dorky. Not all of us dress as a Cirque Soleil performer just to get on our bikes, manufacturers, and as the gas prices force more people onto two wheels, I beg you to reconsider.

    They still seem to put guards on roadster-style bikes, as with the maker of this cool Light Roadster that I borrowed the image from. This touches on a subject I’m always interested in, the way we choose where technology and engineering go rather than it evolving completely from necessity. Like how we use the QWERTY formation on keypads because someone won a speed-typing contest using it a hundred years ago, and the letters were placed apart to keep typewriter keys from locking up- which is no longer a concern. One that keeps nagging me is that ten years ago when someone required me to send or receive a fax (usually lawyers and realtors), that I could do it through my weak little computer’s fax software, and not have to have that outdated machine taking up space in my office. Now I have to have a fax machine again. I realize this is because we don’t use phone modems anymore, but isn’t there an easy way around that? Using a Skype number, maybe?

    I’m trying to think of more instances where we had something that used to work great and abandoned it for no good reason. Style often forces out useful things. And of course our own hangups and preoccupations take us to developments that really aren’t necessary. It’s almost certain we’re going to end up with human looking androids with AI designed to be as similar to us as possible, though there’s absolutely no need for them. So we could have clean, untorn pants, and instead we’re going to be fighting a war with renegade robots. Great!


    Comment from Dana
    Time: August 15, 2008, 1:05 pm

    “I’m trying to think of more instances where we had something that used to work great and abandoned it for no good reason.”

    How about cleaning our drinking water?

    Not the recycled brown water we’re tap-and-shower served here in LA. I’m thinking about the crazy-crazy 70′s when they used to clean the water we drank because, back then, we thought that fish sh*t, pond scum, trash and all of the various Luca Brasis that stew in our nations reservoirs were somehow gross.

    Not anymore!

    Comment from Parker
    Time: August 15, 2008, 1:21 pm

    “all of the various Luca Brasis that stew in our nations reservoirs ”

    That is THE BEST. I will pay you for that line as I rip it off…

    Comment from Dana
    Time: August 15, 2008, 1:28 pm

    Make the check out to “Fishbrain” and it’s “Moreshead” with 1 “o”

    Comment from Dana
    Time: August 15, 2008, 10:16 pm

    Oh OH.
    What about penicillin?
    The wonder-drug of yore that apparently is just too boring for my Family Practitioner to pass out? Tried & true penicillin — BORING! On to the experimental stuff! The *new* stuff. The *fun* stuff. The untested stuff. The stuff so strong is shuts down your liver so the Doc can scrip you (wait for it) MORE DRUGS!

    Last one. Honest.

    Comment from Parker
    Time: August 16, 2008, 2:29 pm

    So passe, that penicillin!

    Comment from Eric
    Time: August 19, 2008, 3:45 am

    Handlebar mustaches and barbershop quartets?

    Comment from zailo
    Time: August 19, 2008, 9:40 pm

    What about when technology outdates language? We still say “roll up the window”, and
    “dial the number”, and “shoot the picture”.

    Comment from Ray Cornwall
    Time: August 20, 2008, 12:46 pm

    I used to have the dorkiest of dorky bicycles when I was in college- a red beach bike, with no gears, a basket on the back, and brakes that you had to activate by pushing the pedal backward. And yet, it was perfect. No grease on my legs, comfortable to ride (no rock-hard banana seat, but a big squishy seat), perfect for getting around campus and for going to the comics shop. Someone stole the bike my last year, and any other bike I’ve had pales in comparison. Would Armstrong use it in the Tour De France? No. Would a bicycle messenger touch it? Heck no! But it was great to ride.