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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Like the Amish



Sometimes I think the Amish have some good ideas. Most people think the Amish shun technology. That’s not quite accurate. They adopt technology all the time. What they have is a process where they evaluate a technology to see how it fits in with the overall good of the community. While I might question their technology choices, it’s not a bad idea to access the technology we use.

New Technology always has unforeseen side effects. Wouldn’t it be nice if improvements were actually real improvements?

The best car I ever owned was a second hand Mercedes diesel from the early 80s. It had a hundred thousand miles on it when we bought it. My lovely wife and I put an additional four hundred thousand miles on. The engine was super simple. The car was my first veggie fuel conversion experiment and it survived my tinkering and ignorance.

I would not want a new Mercedes today. They are way over engineered. Somehow they thought it was a good idea to stuff an absolute silly number of computer processors and sensors in the thing. When the electronic system acts up they are extremely difficult to diagnose and fix. Thea are a much nicer car than the old 80s version, but new ones do not age well. Don’t take my word for it. Look at how fast they depreciate.

When I was a little kid I always thought newer much be better. With age comes wisdom. For example, I really like having a nice wood fired cookstove. It heats the house. We cook on the top and the oven works well. The stove has zero electronics and needs no electricity. There could be a massive EMP and the stove would still work.

Not all new technology is bad. I’ve been really impressed with solar electric. My original solar panels are around twenty-five years old and still generate electricity. The newer panels are a lot cheaper, but there’s no reason to think they won’t last for years and years too.

Of course, solar cells are not new technology. The first solar cells out of Bell Labs were made over sixty years ago.

You don’t have to be as conservative as the Amish while adopting technology. However, it’s probably not a good idea to be on the cutting edge either. You’ll pay a premium to be the one discovering all the bugs the engineers missed.

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. Nothing beats a wood burning stove. Sometimes older is better!

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    1. Sometimes when you weigh the pros and cons, the new stuff doesn't come out so well.

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  2. Technology is just a tool. Use it wisely & it's your friend. Buy it just because it's new & shiny and the bleeding edge hurts.
    I like being a considered luddite.

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    1. A friend of mine used to always buy the bleeding edge stuff. He spent a lot of money for nothing.

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  3. Everyone has their own ideas of progress. The Amish have embraced weed-whackers; I got rid of mine.

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    1. For me it's leaf blowers -the devil's own instrument.

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  4. Have you ever stopped to consider that computer controlled engines do not really belong to you - they belong to the government - just let the engine go into limp mode and you cannot do anything to change it

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    1. Indeed I have. We pay a lot of money to just "rent" our own stuff.

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  5. I liked the good old days. We heated with coal or wood and family meant the world to us. Yep, visited grandparents every week. And oh yes, I would love to have my 1957 Chevy convertible back. Should have never sold it. Sold it for $400.00.

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    1. That '57 Chevy was a classic. Amazing car for the time.

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