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Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:04 AM

The Endangered Repairman


from YES! Magazine:


The Endangered Repairman
Getting your stuff fixed instead of throwing it away is good for the environment as well as for your bank balance. So why is this craft dying out in America?

by Shannon Hayes
posted Nov 23, 2012


If there is one piece of electronic equipment in our house that every member of the family equally enjoys, it is our stereo. Listening to music and radio is one of our greatest pleasures. Bob and I purchased it shortly after we got married with gift money we’d received. We chose carefully, selecting a system that had been manufactured in this country, one we felt would last us for the next fifty years.

It lasted ten. Soon, little buttons stopped working, then a few speaker wires shorted out. This past year, we decided to get it fixed. We contacted the manufacturer.

“Those systems can’t be repaired any longer,” the company representative informed me. But lucky for Bob and me, the company, keen on seeming “green,” has a buy-back program for their old electronic products. They’d take my stereo away, and in exchange, they’d award me a $500 credit toward a new stereo system. I asked if the new ones were still manufactured here. The representative faltered, “Well, no….”

We decided to visit a nearby independently owned store that specialized in home entertainment systems. We explained we were looking for a stereo. A good one. There, we learned that stereos were a thing of the past. We were supposed to be listening to music through new wireless blue-tooth speakers that spoke directly to our computers, which would channel the radio stations and music over the internet. We should just throw out our old stereo and buy the new technology. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/shannon-hayes/the-endangered-repairman



40 replies, 4433 views

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Arrow 40 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Endangered Repairman (Original post)
marmar Nov 2012 OP
RKP5637 Nov 2012 #1
marmar Nov 2012 #2
xchrom Nov 2012 #3
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #4
pangaia Nov 2012 #14
awoke_in_2003 Nov 2012 #38
mindem Nov 2012 #5
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #6
mindem Nov 2012 #8
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #11
pangaia Nov 2012 #16
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #29
RC Nov 2012 #15
kooljerk666 Nov 2012 #26
awoke_in_2003 Nov 2012 #39
onethatcares Nov 2012 #7
aka-chmeee Nov 2012 #18
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #31
onethatcares Nov 2012 #37
dotymed Nov 2012 #9
The Wizard Nov 2012 #13
dkf Nov 2012 #28
redstatebluegirl Nov 2012 #10
The Wizard Nov 2012 #17
zeemike Nov 2012 #19
Snarkoleptic Nov 2012 #32
zeemike Nov 2012 #33
MADem Nov 2012 #20
Disconnect Nov 2012 #12
secondvariety Nov 2012 #21
The Wizard Nov 2012 #22
Plucketeer Nov 2012 #23
mwooldri Nov 2012 #24
FredStembottom Nov 2012 #25
wildeyed Nov 2012 #27
Blanks Nov 2012 #30
Historic NY Nov 2012 #34
Mojorabbit Nov 2012 #35
pansypoo53219 Nov 2012 #36
AndyTiedye Nov 2012 #40

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:07 AM

1. And much of the stuff today is pure crap with a designed in failure rate so consumers will buy buy

buy.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:08 AM

2. Yep.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:12 AM

3. du rec. nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:22 AM

4. They bought a Bose

complete junk. There are plenty of excellent stereo systems out there and they can be repaired. They cost a lot of money- thousands. However there is an alternative and that is the used market. The peak of 2 channel receivers was probably the seventies were sound and build quality was excellent. There are tons of high quality hi fi equipment on ebay. I recently picked up a Harman Kardon 330B for $50.0 It has 20 watts a channel. You can get any of their fine receivers for less than $150. Sansui, Marantz, Yamaha all made excellent equipment. Individual pieces(amp, tuner preamp) from Dynaco are all available and you may pay a bit more for them but sound quality is really excellent. A good quality amp/premap may cost you $600-$7000 but sound quality equal to that in the new market is $2,000. There are many excellent CD players to be had and also terrific speakers. You have to know what you are looking for. Turntables are alive and well and nothing sounds like a good turntable. MP3 are terrible.

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Response to wilt the stilt (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:07 AM

14. Ah, a man who knows sound.. tubes, baby!!

My equipment is not the BEST, but pretty darn good..All bought in the '70's and early 80's except the Denon..

Includes, among other assorted goodies---a Yamaha GR820 receiver, Denon CD player, 300w Marantz Amp/preamp, Thorens TD-135 ( I think), and 2 monster Klipsch Horns. !!! All from the late 60's to '70s. I can blow the neighborhood into the next county if need be. And the sound is fantastic, even at a whisper. And everything STILL WORKS.

I remember the first time I heard a CD vs my own records in 1994 - what's this 'vinyl' silliness :> - I hated the sound of the CD and still do.

I had a 12 piece steel band for 10 years. When we did a CD everyone wanted to go into a digital studio. I agreed to try it. Bleckh. So we went across town to an analog studio with old 2 inch Scully tape machines. Priceless. Most of the guys in the band had never heard the sound of an analog recording.. blew their minds..

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Response to pangaia (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:17 AM

38. Both you and the person you responded too...

have it going on. The old gear id better than anything produced now.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:30 AM

5. Stereos used to be a hobby for people, including me.

I used to subscribe to stereo magazines and actually used to study about new gear I wanted to get. Last weekend I was visiting with the owner of the music store where I teach music and we were lamenting the death of home stereos. It used to be a large part of their income - now no one even shops for stereo gear. It’s all about a little plastic thing the size of a credit card and ear buds now. I long for the days when you would actually rush home after buying a new “record” and listen to it on an actual stereo with big speakers. I’m not sure that progress can be called improvement in a lot of cases.

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Response to mindem (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:39 AM

6. funny you mention that

yesterday my son bought a re-released Abby road on vinyl. I will be cranking up the Victrola any minute right now. Actually, I have a Van alstine(rebuilt Dynaco tube preamap), Belles amp Rotel CD players, Systemdek turntable(sumiko bluepoint cartridge) and a pair of B&W speakers and we will be cranking that sucker up today and it really sounds good.( first level of HiFi)

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Response to wilt the stilt (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 09:32 AM

8. Fun.

The last real good system I put together was back in the 80's. I had Carver (not Carvin) components that had "sonic holography" and I actually had to arrange my living room furniture to get it to work properly. I had a strange looking room but it was worth it because the music was in 3D. I ended up selling the components years ago and I still miss them.

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Response to mindem (Reply #8)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 09:54 AM

11. all available on ebay n/t

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Response to wilt the stilt (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:11 AM

16. I have an original Abby Road. right here.

And lots of other great stuff from the Bernstein/Vienna Der Rosenkavalier to Sgt Pepper.
Bravo for you and your son.. Enjoy..

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Response to pangaia (Reply #16)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:55 PM

29. My son bought the reissue of Abby Road yesterday

and we just played it. Pretty unbelievable and worth it. vinyl of course.

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Response to mindem (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:09 AM

15. The problem with ear buds is that some of us wear hearing aids.

 

Another problem is they shut out the world, even when you are in the middle of a crowd. How many people have you seen wearing ear buds and playing games, while walking somewhere? Some of them have it cranked so the ear buds can be heard 10 feet away!
The horn on that bus about to run you down can't even get through.
What's wrong with paying attention to your surroundings and noticing the view around you? Life is for living. If you want to be alone, stay home.

The up side now is, nobody is carrying around those desktop computer sized ghetto blasters anymore, that can be heard for many city blocks.
Now about those car sound systems that take a souped up electrical system and can be heard for miles. Those people are the ones that should be using the ear buds.

Oh and my need for hearing aids? Loud noises. Everything from diesel engines, noisy broadcast transmitters to loud bands. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart.

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Response to RC (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:28 PM

26. Old g/f used to wear EarBuds when dog walking............

 

........and walked in front of cars & acted careless & and sung horribly when I was trying to relax & well i will skip obscenities............

OK here is a great reason not to wear that shit:
Robert "Bobby'' Jones never heard nor saw the plane.

The 38-year-old Dunedin native was listening to his iPod as he jogged Monday evening along the beach on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

The single-engine plane, which had lost its propeller and was trying to glide in for an emergency landing, hit Jones from behind, killing him instantly.


http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/former-dunedin-man-killed-by-plane-making-emergency-landing-on-beach/1080385

I would not even wear them in the woods, good way to get hit by falling HEAVY branches.

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Response to mindem (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:23 AM

39. I graduated from DeVry in 1998...

we had to build a senior project. One of the guys built a tube amplifier. The professor said jokingly that he was setting electronics back 20 years. But the amp sounded awesome and warm, and he won the best build. You cannot beat a good tube amp, which is why Marshall is such a big player amongst the heavy hitters like Page, Hendrix, Van Halen, etc

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 09:25 AM

7. I agree about the great receivers from the 70s

still being around, but turntables and styluses is another story.

I've been looking around for BIC, or Sansui for a while now and come up empty.

As far as cartridges, does anyone still make them? I don't want a turntable to dj with

just something to listen to vinyl.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:32 AM

18. Love mine!

Sansui 5000A tuner/amp, matching (and Beautiful) speakers. Sound with Authority.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 01:00 PM

31. easy to get

Bic is so- so. Get and old AR for around $150. excellent sound and there are ton's of cartridges. Pickering xv-625, Stanton 681EEE or if you want to step up Ortofon OM5 or a sumiko bluepoint. All are very good. Thorens, philips GA 212 are very good TT's. all are on ebay. If you want to really step systemdek-IIX- copy of a linn sondek LP12- $250- $300.

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Response to wilt the stilt (Reply #31)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 02:25 PM

37. thanks

one of those will be my gift to myself soon.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 09:40 AM

9. Planned Obsolescence....

When I took a business course in the earl 1980's, that was one of the first things we learned. Your product can only last so long or your repeat business will be low. This was even before outsourcing...
Another example...It is often cheaper to purchase a new printer rather than replace the ink. I went shopping for some HP ink and for $5.00 more than the ink, I bought a new HP scanner/printer with ink already in the package..so, I threw out a perfectly good printer...most business' are designed (now) so that instead of repairing/maintaining the product, we trash it and consume,consume. Of course our environment gets destroyed. It is not sustainable..

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Response to dotymed (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:04 AM

13. Printers and all things related

to computers have a limited shelf life. The manufactures change formats and stop supporting the old ones.
It's the same reason automobile manufacturers don't make cars with aluminum bodies and chassis. The biggest reasons cars are on the scrap heap is rust and manufacturers stop making replacement parts.
I have three printers that can't be updated to work with the technology in my current computer, and printers are cheap. One of the biggest ripoffs is replacement ink. It's probably the highest profit item it today's computers. Think about what a small amount of ink costs at a retail store.
Myself, I enjoy resurrecting stuff I find in the trash. I have a fleet of vacuum cleaners, most of which were just clogged.
Having been an auto mechanic for 15 years, fixing stuff around the house is most rewarding. This year I fixed and reconditioned the clothes dryer for $18, and fixed the dish washer for 30 minutes of light work. I also fixed the snow blower at no cost. I originally paid $20 for it at a garage sale. Replacing it would cost $600.
In addition to saving money, I'm helping the environment by conserving resources.
The streets are still lined with gold. We just have to adjust our mining techniques. Sweat equity has its rewards.
And the last stereo I bought was in 1985.

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Response to dotymed (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:53 PM

28. Costco refills cartridges in an hour!

 

It's pretty cheap. We keep refilling the same one.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 09:51 AM

10. I replaced a 30 year old Maytag washer dryer

I got from my Mom with a brand new front loader washer/dryer that together cost close to 1800 dollars. The washer is crap, it has been fixed twice, one was a "recall" the other was the banging it did no matter how we leveled the washer. The dryer mangles the clothes so much they have to be ironed. That cost us $100 and it still does it. I want my old washer back....

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:14 AM

17. Maytag was bought by Whirlpool

My new Maytag washer did the mambo. I found out that Maytag washers have to be on a cement floor. The repair man told me and I didn't believe him until I put the washer on a cement floor and it ran smoothly. It has something to do with the fact that Maytag uses gearing and one belt as opposed to a series of belts to operate the washer. Apparently the series of belts absorbs machine vibration where as gears don't.
The solution was to cut out a section of the wood basement floor and put the machine directly on concrete. Anyway, the machine has been working for 13 years with an occasional tightening of the one belt.

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:36 AM

19. A thirty year old Maytag washer is a thing of beauty.

To me at least because I made a living for many years fixing appliances...and the Maytag washer and dryer was seldom on my list for repair cause they were simple and rugged.
I am retired now but at the end of my career I saw some of the new appliances and they were crap...made as cheep as they could be mad and still work till warranty was over seemed to be the goal.

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Response to zeemike (Reply #19)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 01:02 PM

32. I had this discussion with my sister over Thanksgiving dinner.

She was going to go out on Black Friday to grudgingly replace her old Whirlpool washing machine that has an agitator that wouldn't advance.
I suggested she replace the agitator dogs which I'd done myself for around $4 parts.
They ordered the parts and I'll prolly go replace them when they arrive in the mail.

This website is a great resource for DIYers-
http://applianceparts.com/

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Reply #32)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 01:13 PM

33. That is the easiest washer on the market to fix.

I could fix one in less than an hour no matter where the problem was....If you know how it comes apart it is a snap.
And the agitator dogs are easy and cheep.

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Response to redstatebluegirl (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:37 AM

20. I have an acquaintance who has an appliance store.

He admits that those front loaders (big money makers) are shit and the amount of water saved for an average family won't make up for the repair costs. And what he told me about gas dryers? They're all the same--the high end ones are mostly "looks."

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 09:57 AM

12. There is still good equipment out there, and repair people!!

 

You can still buy big box speakers, new and used. many old speakers can be rehabbed by fitment of new speaker cones, available on the internet. Older amps, receivers can be repaired by the same people who service electronic equipment for the bands and musicians. Check the internet as there are many pieces of 1970's equipment for sale that is very high quality, vintage, and repairable. I also agree that the "NEW" micro stereo suff is junk. Newegg.com sells quite an assortment of speakers and eqipment. Polk Audio is but one of the brands available.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:51 AM

21. McIntosh-

still made in New York. Wish I could afford a big ass McIntosh amp.

http://www.mcintoshlabs.com/us/Pages/Home.aspx#

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:52 AM

22. Youtube is a great resource

for learning how to make repairs. Here's an example:

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:09 AM

23. I fix anything and everything!

Call it cheap - call it nostalgic - call it what you want. I just repaired our well pump last week. I recently put a new pump in our dishwasher. I soldered in four new capacitors on one of our flat screen TV's circuit boards when it refused to start up. I've repaired my PC (one that I assembled from scratch) recently and even put a new cooling fan in this here laptop I'm typing from. I honestly DELIGHT in cheating stores and China out of selling us new! It CAN be done. And as has been mentioned here - there's lots of repair info and videos on this new-fangled internet thingy.
I would caution you that if you're not sure which end of a screwdriver is the handle - you should seek a professional to do your repairs. Electricity and flammables are things that are not forgiving. And I personally, have been professionally repairing things for 50 years now.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:16 AM

24. That was my "work experience" at school...

We had two weeks where we would either watch the work of, or participate somewhat in the working life of someone at a company. I lucked up and was assigned to a local electronic & electrical goods store - yep, a proper family business - small showroom but they sold radios, tv's video players, washing machines and other white goods. This was in 1989, so there weren't these flat panel TVs, or even digital TV ... just 625 lines and four channels. That was a very memorable 2 weeks. Even with that "simpler" technology there were people who had difficulty working the TV sets and we were called out for a service call just to re-tune the tv when they moved house!

I believe when the oldest guy there retired, the repair shop got scaled back because of that.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:41 AM

25. I repair old tube radios and amps as a hobby and...

.... There's some important caveats here:

1) doing what I do you soon discover that cheepnis is nothing new. So many parts in the most elaborate and beautiful old 1940,s and 50's tube audio have cheap substitute parts.
Cardboard tube sockets instead of Bakelite ones is just too common and hard to repair.
Beeswax and paper capacitors that just melt over time.
Metal tubes (an experiment in avoiding more difficult glass enclosures). And on and on.

2) one of the great drivers of throw away audio products is that they very soon will have NO PARTs.
All those components hooked together with wires was soon replaced with printed circuit boards ( no wires) then printed circuits (more parts formed together as one part. And now chips. Your iPod is very nearly a single piece. One part. Coming next is software defined radio. No parts except an initial antennae/converter. Software does the rest by simply pretending to be a radio.

So..... My point is that this has been a 100 year process of Cheepnis. but equal numbers of improvements have driven down the size and permanence of things.

Just sayin'

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:46 PM

27. It may be backfiring on them.

Since everything is crap these days, why bother spending any more than you have to on appliances and electronics? At least that is my attitude. I am disgusted by the lack of quality in the things I buy.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:56 PM

30. We need cradle to grave responsibility for manufactured products.

Yes, technology becomes obsolete. That's no excuse for building cheap shit.

I've fixed a thing or two in my life too. I went to vo-tech for air conditionong and refrigeration. I like repairing things.

I recently took apart a shredder. A cheap plastic gear failed. Everything else was pretty solid. It would have been easy enough to just replace the gear, but that isn't how the system is set up. We need to have tracking on all products that are landfilled and the cost of that disposal; should be the responsibility of the manufacturer.

With 3D printers becoming more prevalent; we should be able to get to a point where you can download the 'drawing' for a replacement part and just print it out (if the situation is similar to the shredder gear), but this buyer beware shit needs to come to an end. They either manufacture stuff that lasts and have a plan to recycle the obsolete part, or they go bankrupt paying for their shit to be landfilled.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 01:21 PM

34. I'm waiting for a little sensor to fix my 30yr old dryer...

its coming from a west coast appliance restorer. My 2 cousins both had problems this week one a washer & one a fridge. We have an old retired appliance warehouse guy he fixes these things cheaply...he took care of both once he found what they need. I follow video instruction such as on http://www.partselect.com when they couldn't find a match they gave me 2 additional sources.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 01:29 PM

35. My hubby's dad used to fix all our electronics

I wish he had passed this knowledge down to his son.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 01:45 PM

36. obsolescence built in.

i eschew new. since discovering estate sales, i have found a bounty of better stuff. OLD FANS WORKS BETTER. old heaters. old furiture. hell, i have old union made toast grabbers w/ paper union labes. i want quality. ALSO BETTER CANDLES, cause they are about 100% beeswax.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:38 AM

40. Yet We are Constantly Berated for "Consuming" So Much

Our stuff consumes itself almost as soon as the warranty runs out.
Usually, it can't be repaired.
So we try to buy better-made stuff. They have gotten really good at faking that sort of thing.
Lots of nice shiny metal on the outside, along with a much higher price tag.
Plastic gears on the inside. Multi-layer circuit boards that can't be repaired. Custom ICs on those boards.
Replacement parts are often unobtainium.

So much of the stuff we buy is replacements for stuff that broke and is unfixable.

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