I’ve enjoyed Natalie Solent’s writing over at the Samizdatian lair for well over a decade, and this latest one of hers is no disappointment.  The actual topic is some MEGO (my eyes glaze over) piece of political arcana called “Tactical Voting Websites” or some such rubbish, but it was her description of the ultimate microwave oven (seriously) which got me going — a microwave which she bought for her father, who didn’t want anything complicated or he wouldn’t use it.  Here are its technical specs:

It had two dials, How Hot and How Long.

Compare that to her own modern one which does everything (badly) and has features which she has never used, and that probably puts her in the company of just about, well, everyone in the world.

I would buy one of her father’s microwave ovens in a heartbeat, as long as it had one teeny-weeny additional feature:  the 30-second one-touch full-strength blaster — but I wouldn’t cry bitter tears if it didn’t.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?  Compare and contrast:

On the left:  useless shit that over-complicates your life and costs far too much, all while achieving pretty much the same result as the fine stuff on the right.

Don’t even get me started on cell phones.  As far as I’m concerned, mobile phones could have stopped right here in terms of design:

…while adding all the later system features we’ve come to know and love [eyecross].  (Am I the only one who needs about twenty minutes to send an intelligible 3-line text on an iPhone or Android phone?  Great Mercury’s blistered fingers:  do they design modern phones’ “keyboards” using a three-year-old girl’s fingertips as the model size?)

I’m not a Luddite, by any means.  I am an unabashed follower of Occam’s Razor, however, which in this context means that simple tasks can best be accomplished using non-complex tools — “best” being a combination of utility and cost.


  1. “…the 30-second one-touch full-strength blaster…”

    Your dream has come true, sort of.
    We had to purchase a microwave about 2 years ago and it is still working great.
    I’m not in the house where it’s located so I can’t verify but, I believe it is named “Mainstay” and we got it at Walmart for about $40. It has the button you described and it’s probably the most used button on the unit. It also has the same button function for 1 minute. In fact, the first 6 buttons work that way. Want 3 min cook time, push the 3 button, etc. It does a bunch of other stuff too but I have never investigated any of it as I don’t use them.

    It’s small, don’t know the size, but it will accept a full size dinner plate and that’s the biggest thing we put in it. It has the turntable, but because the unit is so small you have to gently place heavy stuff in it or the turntable will get knocked off it’s track. Kinda hard to explain why. The plate is heavier then the glass turntable I suppose.

    The only thing that annoys me about this microwave, which we have sitting right on the counter, is that it has “those” type of buttons. You know the type. Our dishwasher has them too, so does one of our dvd players. Irritating little sob’s. Those flat, 2 sheets of plastic with something in between type buttons, that give very little tactile feedback. Now that I’m thinking about it I should go to walmart and buy another one and after testing it out box it back up and keep it for future use before they take them off the market like they do with all the good stuff.

  2. I’m a big fan of things being as simple as possible for their intended task, but no simpler.

    For instance, I don’t know that I’d want to use the Mauser for house-clearing, but I don’t know that you’d be poorly served by an M1 Carbine in that role (or an M3 Grease Gun for that matter).

    The dashboard example is kinda funny, my car (2006 Jeep Liberty) has a dash not much more complex than the lower one you picture, speedometer, tach, a few lights (like the one telling me I’m in 4WD), etc. Wife’s car (2015 Ford Edge) has a big honkin’ TV screen in the middle of the dashboard. I’ve gotten used to it, so it doesn’t bother me, but I could live without it just fine.

    We COULD get into a discussion of the actual purpose too. The AR-15 above does it’s job extremely well, if you understand it’s job is to make money for government contractors and look cool.

  3. So you’re not a Windows 10 fan, I assume. Seriously, Microsoft screws up everything that works fine. If they worked for an automobile company we’d have the gas pedal on the steering wheel and voice activated brakes in this version, and something different with the next unscheduled upgrade.

    1. Mark, have you tried Open Shell?

      I just migrated two Win 7 systems to 10. Installed Open Shell to give the UI the look and feel of Win 7, and turned off as much of the Win 10 bloat ware as I could. Except for the Settings button everything looks and works pretty much the same.

      And I firmly believe there has been no significant improvement in MS UI since Windows NT (much like there has been no significant improvement in hand gun design since 1935)

      1. Thank you. I will give it a try for my personal PC, but I’m stuck with the company’s locked down Win 10 desktops.

  4. I must point out one small omission. The rifle on the left makes the liberal’s head explode without ever pulling the trigger. ~$400 is a small price to pay to have the peace of mind knowing I’ve made a liberal so mad they spewed bad poetry about me in a coffe house.

  5. Someone elsewhere noted: Have you ever noticed how closely the shape of a cell phone resembles the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey”?

  6. “Am I the only one who needs about twenty minutes to send an intelligible 3-line text on an iPhone or Android phone?”

    Yes. You could use voice recognition instead of typing.

    Then you’d be an old man yelling at the cloud.

  7. Just finishing up breaking in a new upper 18″ barrel in .223 Wylde which shoots 5.56 and .223, it took almost two hours to put 15 rounds through the gun and then I did another 5 rather fast.

    I was not a fan of black guns for a lot of years and then my son who does 3-gun and wins at times got me interested. These “Tinker-Toy” guns are kind of a blast because you can buy this part and that part and put them all together and over the last ten years or so they have learned to build parts that work together.

    Next project is an AR-10 and I hope to make a decent long distance rifle out of that one to shoot steel kind of on out there.

    1. Same here. I built a custom AR15 2 years ago and am very pleased with it all the way around. A couple months ago I started collecting the parts for me next build which will be a .308 and other than a longer 24″ barrel it will closely resemble the M16 I carried in the army. I’m wanting to reach out beyond 1000 yds with it. FWIW, I’ve got over 2000rds through my AR15 and not a single misfire of any sort. By putting it together myself I understand it’s workings completely and have almost all the replacement parts for it. IOW, I could almost build a 2nd one from parts on hand. I’m also considering doing an 80% lower for that AR15 (and maybe the .308 too). You never know.

  8. We live in a product age where engineers and marketers believe more features sells more products.

    I’m more of a simple product guy… easy simple and basic… but beautiful. That’s what I like. Save the sophisticated bs for the brain damaged leftist pigs.

  9. Remember when getting something new was cool and exciting?

    I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels a sense of existential dread when faced with the prospect of a new phone or a new computer.

    Inwardly I groan “Oh, Jesus, how many hours is it going to take to figure out how to do something that I already know how to do with my old one?

    Even a new car or truck – which ought to be every red-blooded American man’s dream – now comes with a phone-book size “users manual” written in techno gibberish and explaining how to use the 55 features I never asked for, didn’t want, and don’t care about, while completely omitting simple or clear instructions on how to do things like adjust the seat or find a radio station.

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