Things I Don’t Miss
Apropos of nothing (no, really), here are some things from life which no longer really exist and which I am glad do not.
These days, my long distance phone bill is a flat fee of something like $25; I literally can’t think of the last time I had to think about how long I could afford to talk to someone far away on the phone. The phone companies appear to have shifted their Egregious Profit Center from long distance to text messaging, which, as I am not one of Those Damn Kids and rarely text message (and have a $5 add-on to my cell phone account which covers the first 250 texts a month, which is more than I use), suits me just fine.
The real irony here is that I’m rather more likely to e-mail or IM friends than phone them these days, so likely my phone bill would be lower now than back in ’91 no matter what. But it’s the principle of the thing.
2. Crappy old cars. Which cars qualify as crappy old cars? In my opinion, pretty much all of them. Pre-catalytic converter cars were shoddily-constructed, lead-spewing deathtraps, the first generation of cars running on unleaded were even more shoddily-constructed 70s defeat-mobiles, the 80s were the golden age of Detroit Doesn’t Give a Shit, and so on. You have to get to about 1997 before there’s a car I would willingly get into these days. As opposed to today, when even the cheap boxy cars meant for first-time buyers have decent mileage, will protect you if you’re hit by a semi, and have more gizmos and better living conditions than my first couple of apartments.
Yes, I know. Car lovers scandalized. Well, look. First, watch this:
Which I think makes the point about “death traps” I was mentioning earlier.
3. Physical media for music. Audiophiles like to wank on about the warmth of vinyl, and you know, maybe if you take your vinyl and put it into special static free sleeves and then store those sleeves in a purpose-built room filled with inert gases, to be retrieved only when you play that vinyl on your $10,000 turntable which could play a record without skipping through a 7.5 earthquake, ported through your vacuum tube amplifier that sucks down more energy than Philadelphia at night, maybe it is warm. Good for you and your warm vinyl.
Let us not even speak of 8-tracks.
CDs were the best possible physical music medium, for all the crap they get from audiophiles, but even CDs pale against the awesomeness that is the intangible digital music file, stored in a tiny, pretty little handheld computer that also plays video and games and lets me read my e-mail. I have three decades of curated personal music, enough to play straight for week without interruption or repetition, with me wherever I go. And while the encoding rate I used to rip “Don’t Stop Believin'” might not give me the crystal clarity I could get listening to it on vinyl, on a $10k turntable and through a McIntosh amp, I’ll say this: It sounds a hell of a lot better than when I was 12, listening to it on cassette through a mono tape player, or through the transistor radio alarm clock by my bed. Which is to say from a practical point of view it’s just groovy, thanks.
Now, I’d note that it also sucks to be a smoker today, as they are exiled to the outdoors in every sort of weather, to huddle together for warmth and companionship in their devotion to the demon weed. They have my sympathy. But given the choice between telling them to go outside and having to suck down their smoke whether I want it or not, I’m good with the current state of affairs.
5. Pull tabs on drink cans. One less bit of ubiquitous trash to be annoyed with. To the dude who invented the stay tab: Bless you, sir.