Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New And Improved

When I was in the private practice of medicine, one of the columns I wrote was in the newsletter of our several-thousand-member professional organization. It was called "Miscellania Medica," and dealt with the advances in medical devices. I still recall one of the quotes I found when I wrote about the development of a "foolproof" electrocautery machine--"There's no such thing as 'foolproof,' because fools are so ingenious." I guess that's still true.

I have said on more than one occasion that "new" and "improved" are not necessarily synonymous.  That's true in whatever field of endeavor you're talking about and whatever circumstances you are discussing. Not just medicine, but also writing (which I'm learning about each day), the choice of toilet paper for the household (where you have to be careful to read the labels to see if the reason it's cheaper is that it's one-ply or the roll is narrower than the last one), or buying groceries (where suddenly a pound has been transformed to 12 or even 10 ounces). "New and improved" may be the merchandising slogan chosen by the purveyor or whatever mechanism or product they're pushing, but the wise consumer will ask what's different...and whether it's really better.

Are there areas where you see changes that don't necessarily benefit you? I'd like to hear from you. Go ahead, the mike is yours.

But before I turn it over to you, let me reiterate that my latest novella, Emergency Case, is available for pre-order at a discounted price for the Kindle format until November 27, at which time both the Kindle and print versions will be available. Also I soon hope to announce the availability of an audio version of my last novel, Guarded Prognosis. Stay tuned.


Patricia Bradley said...

Richard, I've pre-ordered! And what bugs me is the way retail stores will MOVE things. I can never find anything. Makes a body want to use words best left unsaid...

Priscilla Bettis said...

New and improved, or new and over-engineered future landfill bloat?

(I like engineers, really I do. I married an engineer.)

I used to visit an elderly man, sick and stuck in his house. One time I laughed at his washing machine. It was OLD. He shrugged and said, "Still works." Silly me, I've been through two, expensive, doodad-filled and blinged-out washers since then. Do I use the 15 different wash cycles (for which I paid) on my current machine? No, just one, two at the most. Do I enjoy all the blinky lights it has? No, I don't stand there and watch lights blink while the machine is running. Silly, silly me.

Other examples: I don't need a spinning, battery-hogging electric weeder because my simple weed fork has yet to break down. I don't need an electric ice cream maker because how cool ("cool" haha) is it to get the whole family on the back porch taking turns at the ancient, hand-cranked ice cream maker that Grandpa used to use?

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia and Priscilla, thanks for your comments. The post reminded me of a book published many years ago--Vance Packard's THE WASTE MAKERS. He cited a potato peeler that was manufactured with the handle a shade of brown that made it easily thrown out with potato peels. New? I suppose. Improved? For the maker, I suppose, who sold a lot of replacements.