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Grumpy Old Men

When you're young you expect that things will get better with time as humanity learns. As you get older you learn that this isn't true. That in certain areas things that people once did well will be replaced by something utterly dysfunctional and that this will be sold as a great advance.

What's worse is the old better way doesn't remain as an option, it simply ceases to exist, and people forget that there ever was  a better way, older people are just regarded as nostalgic fools.  Here are just some of those things that have got worse in my lifetime.


Fashion of course changes from generation to generation as each generation tries to declare its independence from the generation before, but who is responsible for that special look which we might call the "Slob Extreme" look of the new millennium. Out of this has come a situation where it is now impossible to get a pair of jeans that doesn't pull half way down your bum every time you sit down leaving your pants to enjoy the fresh air. Its the same for children's clothes as well. I had serious problems finding trousers that even remotely fitted my five year old daughter.

Given the number of styles of Jeans available you would think that one company could produce one line for each sex that were flatteringly close fitting and yet where your shirt could stay tucked in in the winter. Bring back 80s Jeans. (By the way I do think that Levi 501s were clearly made for people without any bits, so that's not an option.)


Why is it that nearly every laptop on the market is designed for home cinema these days. Does nobody use these things for work?
Wide screen - Somebody had the bright idea of chopping some of the height of your laptop screen. Now most pages are A4 aren't they and it is quite nice to be able to see  a whole page. If you wanted the laptop screen to be wider you could use A4 landscape. Thus you could fit two A5 pages portrait in it. But no, lets turn our laptops into home cinema systems.

True bright - After many years they came up with a laptop screen that you couldn't see the windows reflected in. This is pretty important when working in a moving train for example. Many people who worked long hours on computers turned the contrast and brightness down to the lowest comfortable level to avoid eye strain. A few needed high brightness and high contrast. Well now they have got it. With super glossy high glare screens that everybody says everybody else prefers, but I still haven't met anybody that says they prefer it themselves.

High Definition - I once had a laptop that was 1600x1400 then the next one I had was 1400x1200 and now supposedly 1280x1024 is pretty good going with the standard being 1152x789. What happened. Fine 1024 lines might be fine for HD TV but it really is the bottom end of a workable computer display.

Kids Bikes

They way a ton these days. You go out and buy some pink monster for your daughter and every single bike is heavy. The peddles demand that the child's foot almost hits their bum and their knee the handle bars on each stroke. When I was five in 1966 kids bikes had smaller peddles and were much lighter. Just to prove the point, when my oldest daughter was five in 1987 we bought a bike for 70p from a car boot sale and it was the best bike she ever had, rusty or not, she and her sister fought to ride it in preference to the pink monster from Toys Are Us.

Air Conditioning

Getting up in the morning you look at the sky and read the outside temperature and yes its a tee shirt and shorts day, well that's until you remember that today you will be travelling by train, so grab a coat that you will have to carry with you all day but will only use on the train to cope with, you guessed it, the air conditioning.

For some reason if the ambient temperature rises much above 20C the railway insist on firing jets of cold air at us. In Sainsbury staff on the till sit in waistcoats on warm summer days because of... air conditioning. Why?

Here in England perhaps once in a century the temperature rises above 40C. What is it that drives some businesses to waste energy on air conditioning under these conditions.

You know these people, just because they got air-con they have to show it off. Sell it to Eskimos that's what I say.


Now talking about cold and hot London Transport in about 2005, I think, got these new buses. Some bright spark decided to take out the opening front windows on the top deck that have been on double deckers for as long as I remember. These top front windows really picked up the air flow as the bus moved and kept the whole bus cool. Now you just bake. Perhaps they will add air-con soon and waste more fuel. Also these new buses shake like hell when the engine is idling. After massive transport initiatives funded by the EU to get people on public transport it seems a bit sad to get new more uncomfortable buses that arm't.

Guys next time take the bus for a test drive for a year and be honest about your assessment.

Washing Up Brushes

Yes in the old days you could buy a washing up brush where the bristles didn't deform in hot water. It seems obvious doesn't it that a plastic used for the bristles in a washing up brush should be able to remain in shape in water close to boiling point. In the old days the natural fibre brushes did.

Racing Bikes

Well the good news is they are back. Light racing bikes for £500 or less disappeared from the market place from around 1992 to 2005. You could buy a depressingly heavy bike with drop handle bars but it was like riding a cow instead of a horse. Thank god racing bikes are back now and they are now better as well. Lighter and stronger. 13 years was a long time to wait.


So perhaps there is some hope. I shall look forward to the new generation of trousers that cover your ass and anti reflective screens, air-con that switches on when its actually hot, which is almost never in England, and buses, and trains, with windows you can open.

What will they mess up next?

Latest News

Matt screens are coming back, which is good because I need a new laptop its 7 years old!

(C)2010 Tom de Havas. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.