Friday, May 20, 2011

Products We Should Ban

How is this good for anyone?
Science and technology combined with free markets have produced some wonderfully innovative and helpful products – and some ridiculous, annoying and/or actually harmful products. So no beating around the bush here. It’s time to get serious – and get RID of these daily annoyances.

Car Alarms: These are at disturbing the peace and raising the overall stress level, but do they actually work? In my life, I’ve heard approximately 8 million car alarms go off, and I’ve only called the police once – and then only because my roommate was about to go with a bat and smash the windows of a car with an alarm that had been going off every five minutes outside our apartment for two hours starting at 2 in the morning on a week night.

Leaf Blowers: I’ve used these a couple of times. They’re somewhat faster than raking and obviously require less effort. But man, they’re hideous machines. They blow dirt, dust and God knows what else into the air. They’re loud. And the gas-powered ones stink and produce terrible emissions. Let’s help take care of the obesity epidemic and force people to rake. Better yet, just leave the leaves where they are and let them compost.

Remote Car Starters: It’s cold in certain parts of the world and getting into a cold car can be exquisitely painful, so I understand the desire to fire up the car from the warmth of one’s house so one can then climb into a nice warm vehicle. But in the meantime, the car is burning fossil fuels, releasing emissions, stinking up the neighborhood, and going nowhere. And there’s an alternative that works just as well: get a block heater.

Clothes Dryers: Okay, maybe banning is going to far here. Let’s just restrict them to those items (towels and jeans) where they actually help. Otherwise, just hang clothes up. Yeah, it takes a little while to hang them, but they smell better, it’s just as easy to fold them up afterward, and we’ll save a ton of energy. Of course, something like 80,000 homeowners’ associations ban outdoor clotheslines because they’re associated with poverty and therefore reduce home values, so maybe we should start that fight first.

Scratch Lottery Tickets: Aside from the “stupid people tax” aspect of this, I’m tired of seeing them blowing around the street. In my neighborhood, they’re second only to Dunkin’ Donuts junk.

DVD Players in Cars: Is it just me or are these accidents waiting to happen? I find them distracting at night just passing one. I can’t imagine it isn’t distracting in the actual vehicle. Yes, I have family and friends who swear by these for keeping their children distracted during long rides (although we drove happily across North America for weeks at a time as kids with nothing but pads of paper) but wouldn’t a portable they can hold on their laps be less distracting?

Nordic Track, BowFlex, Thigh Master or Any Other “Fitness” Equipment Sold on TV: Holy Waste of Resources, Batman! How useful are these? Not very, based on how frequently you’ll find these 1) at yard sales, 2) on Craig’s List, or 3) sitting on the sidewalk as a freebie because no one will spend money for one of these at a yard sale or on Craig’s List. On the other hand, the commercials are entertaining. Just check out the Shake Weight and tell me exactly what this device is intended for!

Clear or Green Beer Bottles: Beer should never EVER be packaged such that light can get at it. This is why every bottle of Heineken (at least in North America) tastes skunky. Ever wonder why they stick a wedge of lime into the Corona bottles? No, it’s not to keep the flies away; it’s to keep you from noticing that it sucks!

Jet Skis and Other Personal Watersports: Loud, polluting, annoying and completely unnecessary. Everytime I see one of these at the reservoir we go to in Vermont, I want to string piano wire across and remove a few heads, but I figure that evolution will take care these folks without my intervention.

Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and other pseudo-celebrities: Okay, I realize that, technically, these are people but since they’ve turned their ridiculous shallow lives into product, all bets are off. Our culture’s overemphasis on celebrity is bad enough, but this whole era of being famous just for being famous (i.e. rich) has pulled things down to a whole new level of grotesquery. 

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