What was wrong with just pulling on the paper, or operating a simple lever at the side?
Every one of these devices is different, so you stand there like an idiot with your hands dripping wet, trying to figure out where the “electronic eye” is.
Is it on the front, is it underneath. Shouldn’t there be a little red light somewhere? You wave your hands all around this abominable black plastic box. How about one that delivers paper towel when you punch it? Dry your hands and relieve your frustrations at the same time.
Invariably someone will come to your rescue and show you how it operates, making you feel like a total retard. (That used to be a politically incorrect term, but no one ever uses it to refer to a mentally challenged person anymore, it is only used when referring the type of person who can’t operate a stupid paper towel dispenser.)
Why make the simple things in life high tech, when there is no good reason other than we can? Or because we have the technology. The makers of these “Black Box” towel dispensers will argue that by eliminating the handle, they eliminate a source of germs that could re-contaminate our clean hands.
Now wait a minute, every person using the towel dispenser has clean hands. They have just washed them, that’s why they need a paper towel. And, anyway after sterilizing our hands thoroughly, we grab the filthy door handle as we leave.
Why do we need electric can openers? One of the times we really need a can opener is during an emergency when the power is out. And the bicycle, one of the simplest and most efficient machines man has ever invented, is being made more and more complicated.
To be honest, it took me many years to get over index shifting in the late 1980s. At the time, I was in step with the European cycling community who scoffed at the idea, as did Campagnolo. This was tantamount to a violinist needing marks on the neck of the fiddle to show where to place your fingers.
Of course, the engineers at Shimano knew better. They knew that in America there were people who actually did not know how to operate a friction shift lever. Maybe they had great foresight and could see this same nation of people, who in the future, would not be able to operate a paper towel dispenser.
I always felt that index shifting was developed to cater to the “Instant Gratification” element. Nothing that requires a degree of skill, gives instant gratification. Muffing gear changes on a hill is no fun, but then neither is learning to play a musical instrument. However, the rewards are far greater once you master the skill. The satisfaction of doing something other people cannot, for a start.
In the case of indexed shifting, Shimano was proved to be right, and Campagnolo spent years playing catch up. I will agree that indexed shifting has developed into something that is useful to all cyclists, including the pros. No one wants to go back to friction shifting, even old farts purists like me.
When I started cycling in the 1950s, racing bikes were the exact same machines as those ridden by the Pros in the Tour de France. It was like that up into the 1980s. What the professionals used, dictated what was sold on the open market. If you were a newbie and wanted to ride a racing bike, you had to deal with friction shifting. There was nothing else.
The mountain bike changed all that. Here was a whole new animal, and a whole new breed of cyclist. They were not trying to emulate the pros in the TDF, and they didn’t want to learn friction shifting. So indexed or click shifting came first to the mountain bike, then the road bike. This lead to more and more gears. This was not necessarily a bad thing, although I think they should have stopped at 10 gears, no one really needed 11.
Today, it is no longer what the pros ride and want, but rather what the corporations that sponsor the pros want them to ride. And that is, new stuff they can sell to the American leisure rider.
A prime example is Disc Brakes. The pros don’t really want it but it will be forced on them. I have never used disc brakes, so I can’t speak from experience. I understand they work better than caliper rim brakes in wet conditions. But I do know enough about bikes, to know that the last thing I need in the wet is more stopping power when the real problem is the tires gripping the road.
If it is raining I can lock my wheels up without even trying, with my old tech caliper brake. I don’t need a brake that will lock my wheels up a split second faster.
There is an old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I always wondered who the Father was. Today I know the father is the one who takes something simple that works, and fucks with it to make something that is more complicated, costs more, and doesn’t work any better.
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