back to article Let's make laptops from radium. How's that for planned obsolescence?

Its international reputation trashed by Brexit shenanigans, the UK government has been desperately trying to distract its citizens with a promise to extend the ban on single-use plastic products. It all began with disposable carrier bags. But now they're clutching at straws. It is the great contradiction that defines our era: …

  1. EvilDrSmith

    >What I had in mind was the materials themselves beginning to decompose even as the gadgets roll off the production line.

    Didn't British Leyland try this in the 1970's?

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Indeed. And they tried to return as much oil from whence it came as they could possibly manage - usually right through the concrete on your driveway.

      1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

        "And then I remembered what they say about old British engines - 'If there ain't no oil under 'em, there ain't no oil in 'em.'" - T Mater (Cars 2)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Someone at Norton apparently once told a motoring journalist (Bruce Main-Smith IIRC) that the engines leaked on purpose so the owner would keep the tank topped up with clean oil, and not forget to do a regular oil change.

          And Joe Craig was the Messiah, no doubt.

          At least on Velocettes you knew that the lubrication system was deliberately designed to allow a little oil through the taper roller main bearing into the chain case, ensuring that the chain got lubricated. Velo did not have planned obsolescence. Sadly, lack of an R&D budget meant they ended up with unplanned obsolescence. But there's a lot of Venoms still pootling around, seemingly far more than of BSAs which sold in much bigger numbers.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        I had a colleague who had a Citroen Visa, it would swallow 5 Litres of oil per 100 miles towards the end! He kept hanging on to it, but it would have been cheaper to replace it with a new car!

        1. Caver_Dave
          Unhappy

          Been there

          I had a Ford Sierra that I got to 297,000 miles - I was hoping for 300,000 but the oil requirements per week were fast approaching the petrol requirements, so it had to go :-(

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Been there

            I got mine to c 180,000 (at least - the almost exact 60,000 on the clock when I got it was a bit suspicious). In my case it was the petrol replacements that got to me. Not the petrol lost through the engine, the petrol lost through the tank.

            1. Bowlers

              Re: Been there

              Same here, my 10 yo MG Magnette was getting worse and worse fuel consumption even after fiddling with the twin carbs. At 6mpg I inspected further to find multiple drips from the petrol tank that turned to holes when a screwdiver touched them. Scrap dealers were my friends in those days!

          2. Flywheel Silver badge

            Re: Been there

            Oil? Ha! We don't need no steenking oil!

            My 1974 Simca Saloon ran for nearly a year on a combination of mainly pink Dulux emulsion and a little bit of something that vaguely resembled oil. Ran really quietly!

        2. GlenP Silver badge

          Should have had a Vauxhall.

          I had an Omega estate that "drank" about a litre of oil every 3,000 miles (apparently Vauxhall considered up to 1 litre every 1,000 miles as "normal") when I bought it at around 80,000 miles. It was still the same at 170,000 miles.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Was it early 2.2 2.6 or 3.2?

            They used rubbish valve seals

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Wasn't there something about those direct injection petrol engines having a major inlet valve carbonisation problem because engines rely on the petrol washing over the valve to remove the oil that trickles down the guide seals? One of the few advantages of side valves was that guide oil leaks were downward, not up.

              1. quxinot Silver badge

                Which is why they all need turbochargers and water/methanol injection systems--keeps the valve stems nice and clean.

                Of course, there's other benefits.....

              2. MJI Silver badge

                GM Valve seals

                The first year of production larger Ecotec engines had cheaper by 1p each valve seals, beancounters at work.

                They failed at around 5 to 8 years.

                They are red in colour, older and newer were green.

                I replaced 24.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Circulate the oil?

          Would it not be cheaper to put a kids play pool under the car and circulate it with a pump back up into the engine?

          You'd need to jack the thing up. Put some big tires in it. But then you could drive over the traffic and have even more benefits.

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Lancia, too.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Brilliant idea

        Organic self composting laptops would fetch a premium price just like organic vegetables, they would also not have to look good as buyers of 'organic' produce are conditioned to trade good looking veg for so called healthy veg.

        There are already sellers of operating systems that are self composting so why not laptops?

        For a while in the '70s Lancia were buying back their rotten cars, my youngest brother had a spray shop but for a few months his biggest earner was 'disposing' of Lancias the owners couldn't sell.

        I think Yugo cars had the absolute worst bodywork, some of them were rusty from new.

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          Re: Brilliant idea

          Reminds me of when FORD used to stand for Failed On Rusty Doors (ironic really as my Ford Escort actually did fail it's MOT due to the rust on the doors)

          1. Chronos Silver badge

            Re: Brilliant idea

            Fscked on rainy days, found on road dead, flung on recycling dump...

            Yes, this was Dagenham Dustbin era. My uncle used to work in the tractor plant and wasted 20 years of his life putting one bolt in as they went past. Given the monotony, it's easy to see why the people on the lines didn't GAF.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Brilliant idea

            Found On Roadside Dead. Fix Or Repaid Daily. F'd Over Rebuild Dodge. The list goes on.

            1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Brilliant idea

              My favorite was always "F*ck, our ride died!"

              1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Unicornpiss

                My favourite was "Fix It Again Tony" from King of the Hill...

          3. WolfFan Silver badge

            Re: Brilliant idea

            Floods On Rainy Days, that’s what it really means. 1970s Escorts and Cortinas especially would die on certain roads notorious for the way water would run down them, particularly in the Caribbean and East Africa. Guess how I know.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: Brilliant idea

              You're a pirate?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Brilliant idea

          Ah, the Yugo. The pinnacle of Serbo-Croation engineering!

          (As an engineer with Croation ancestry, I always loved that line).

          1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

            Re: Brilliant idea

            Actually, it was an old Fiat design I hear they even moved the whole factory lock, stock and barrel over to Yugoslavia when Fiat was done with it.

            1. Shooter

              FIAT...

              Fix It Again, Tony!

              1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
                Childcatcher

                Re: FIAT...

                Cars by Fiat: only slightly better than Cars by Committee.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Brilliant idea

              I hear they even moved the whole factory lock, stock and barrel over to Yugoslavia when Fiat was done with it.

              Pretty standard in that era. the Renault 12 production line was moved to Romania to turn out the Dacia 1300. Fiat actually built a new factory in Togliattigrad to produce various Lada models.

              The worst vehicles ever produced must have been the Chinese Chang Jiang CJ750. The production line was set up to build the Ural/Dnepr M-72, a copy of the 1938 BMW R71. Side valve engine, 6V electrics. After the Russians considered the plant obsolete and the jigs too far worn, they sold the lot to the Chinese who happily started building theirs, with very predictable reliability. The Chinese also built a Jawa/CZ copy on a similarly ratty production line that had already spent more than its useful life in Czechoslovakia.

              1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Brilliant idea

                Wow "Jawa", that's not a brand I've heard of or seen for a long time. A friend of mine had a Jawa moped when I was a young teen. It literally fell apart, piece by piece. I had no idea they dabbled in cars--I thought maybe a manufacturer of plastic dog crap or other novelties had branched out..

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Brilliant idea

                  Jawa actually made some good bikes. It was said they looked ten years old when new. Ten years later, they still looked ten years old.

                  The 350 two stroke twin is back in production. These days it looks just five years old when new, so progress.

                  1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                    Re: Brilliant idea

                    The 350 two stroke twin is back in production.

                    Except that its powerplant is now a Honda 400cc four-stroke single.

                2. Stoneshop Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  Re: Brilliant idea

                  I had no idea they dabbled in cars

                  They didn't, and they don't. 'Vehicle' does not exclusively indicate 'automobile'.

                  The closest Jawa got is their engines powering the Velorex Oscar and its follow-on models

      2. 404 Silver badge

        UNIFIED GROUND ELECTRICAL SYSTEM!

        OMFG I HATED THAT!

        Fried of mine was given a Lancia Lancer as payment for something or other and the brake lights didn't work. We worked on that bastard for three days and never did figure out why.. No chassis ground wtf were they thinking? Double the amount of wire used with a separate ground wire for everything.. jesus I'm getting upset and that was 30 damn years ago...

        Friend... well I'd say 'Paid It Forward', but no, he fucked somebody else with it... 'Fucked It Forward'? idk

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't laugh but they probably used a separate return wire for everything the same reason you do it on steel boats - to reduce the chance of corrosion.

          On a Lancia.

        2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Lancia Lancer? Doesn't Mitsubishi call their mainstream model the Lancer too?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Lancia, too.

        I remember someone in the seventies putting their Lancia into gear in a multistory car park and letting it go off the side several floors up as a protest against their rusty bodywork and poor reliability.

        But I had a Morris Marina, possibly the finest car ever made (!)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lancia, too.

          i had a marina pickup!

    3. TRT Silver badge

      I recall...

      a trip in a teacher's 2CV, overspill from the clapped out Bedford school minibus, back from a field study centre, heading towards one of those new fangled "fun pools" of which there were only one or two in the country during that era, on a very hot, sunny, late June morning.

      The road noise suddenly increased, and as we looked up to where the roar was coming from, a steadily growing sliver of daylight was appearing between the roof and the top of the car's passenger frame.

      We all grabbed onto whatever dangly bits of roof we could and held on for dear life until we managed to get to the swimming pool, and the teacher could get to a phone box to call a garage!

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: I recall...

        I had a Dyane 6 for about 3 months, until I braked very hard going down Hampstead Hill ... and the engine sheered off its mountings and crashed through the radiator.

        Motto: always check Citroën engine mountings before you buy.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I recall...

          It's all held together with glue made out of horses hooves and bits of string. All of it.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: I recall...

            "It's all held together with glue made out of horses hooves"

            Not entirely a horse-less carriage, then?

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: I recall...

          and the engine sheered off its mountings and crashed through the radiator.

          As the brakes were attached to the engine instead of to the front suspension arms as would be common, you essentially had the entire engine being wrenched off its mounts, torqued forward each time you braked heavily. Acceleration was not a problem at all with the anaemic engine it had.

          A friend had a Dyane for several years. A good while after he got rid of it I visited him riding a BMW R80, same engine configuration with a little more capacity. He felt it necessary to remark that his Dyane had a similar engine, to which I replied that it would take him five times as long to reach 100km/h, with over 140km/h simply being out of the question.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Datsun as well. My dad had a 280C, after 18 months the door mirror fell off, because the underlying panel had rotted away.

      The rear axel gave up after around 24 months (and 200,000 miles).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Back in the 1970s when British cars were almost unredeemably awful and seemed to spend more time in the garage that with their owner, a colleague bought a Datsun.

        For three years the British car owners had to listen to tales of its total reliability, routine servicing only, everything just worked.

        After three and a half years the exhaust fell off. Well, how long do British exhausts last?

        After 4 years the wings fell off, and soon after it was scrapped for spares.

        Being too poor for a car I had a Kawasaki motorcycle. I was told that the frames were made from wrecked battleships recovered after the War. Whatever, when I sold it there wasn't a trace of rust, the chrome was good as new and it could still show a clean pair of heels (well, three smoky exhaust pipes) to a Bonneville. The obsolescence method for Kawasakis was attempting to go round a bend at speed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This a million times.

          The amount of people who told me "don't buy this because of X" and it never happened, and the one they said to buy exploded.

          However, for the random faults/user errors, when buying I'm often going in blind. :(

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "For three years the British car owners had to listen to tales of its total reliability, routine servicing only, everything just worked."

          There was a certain amount of sampling bias. The UK manufacturers were certainly making some dreadful cars but if you compared the state of the average Japanese car in the car park with the average British car you needed to take into account that the Japanese were newcomers and the average Japanese car was going to be a few years younger.

    5. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Saab, too

      In the 1970s a friend owned one of the old 2-stroke Saabs. When climbing out of the back seat I put my foot through the floor. In those days I weighed about 10 stone - a heavier person would presumably have destroyed the whole car.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Saab, too

        Fred Flintsone special edition.

      2. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Saab, too

        My very first motor was a red Ford Escort estate, MKIII

        I thought it had really comfy, springy seats but it turned out to be a rotten floor.

        I found out when it went for an MOT and the mechanic said it needed some welding - he'd French chalked the area..."the area" turned out to be the whole floor.

        What else?

        First and reverse gears were randomly interchangeable because the gate was knackered, the boot lock barrel could be pulled out and the boot opened by pushing the lever...that's not to forget it also had a tendency to just pop open at random anyway.

        The heater had two settings - the Arctic or Hell. Ditto the fan - off or full on and it sounded like a jet taking off. Shook the dashboard like it, too.

        And the choke...the god awful, manual piss take that THAT thing was. Too warm - won't start. Too cold? Won't start. Cloud over on the horizon, within 20 miles? Won't start. Damp or wet? Won't start.

        But I did love it all the same - it was my first proper bit of freedom.

      3. DougS Silver badge

        Friend of mine had a Chevette with that 'feature'

        Had to watch out when getting in to the front passenger seat! He used to leave it in his driveway with the keys in it, because he figured if someone stole it they'd be doing him a favor. No one ever did, though maybe because it was orange and a Chevette moreso than the rust.

        He ended up selling it after he graduated college, because even though the body was shit the engine just kept going and going despite never doing any maintenance at all in the four years he owned it. Don't think I ever asked what he got for it, probably asked for a few 24 packs and called it even!

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Friend of mine had a Chevette with that 'feature'

          (some) American cars went through a dark period in the late 70s and 80s like that. I had a 1981 Pontiac Firebird. (which I don't admit to just anyone) While the body was sound, the doors sagged and had to be lifted to close, the leaf springs wore out, water would need to be bailed from the trunk when it rained, and it had an electrical system that needed an exorcist. It would burn out a brake or tail light every week or so. The turn signal stalk fell off. When I installed an aftermarket amplifier (wired correctly), the gauges would "boogie" in time with the music. At night I finally discovered a solution when I saw sparking near the ashtray and found a poorly secured ground wire. I provided a better ground and no more disco gauges.

          On the other hand I had a 3rd-hand rusty 1980 Chrysler New Yorker, purchased in 1995. Despite having over 150K miles on it, it had zero squeaks and rattles (except the bottoms of the rusty doors chattering when you shut them), and I had pretty much zero trouble with it in the 5 years or so I owned it. The air con even worked until the last year or so until it got too expensive to keep pumping R12 into it. (too bad some of the other Chrysler products I had weren't quite so good)

          1. drewsup

            Re: Friend of mine had a Chevette with that 'feature'

            AHH yes, the days of the 307 V8, what utter POS they were

            1. 404 Silver badge

              Re: Friend of mine had a Chevette with that 'feature'

              Number 7 cylinder would start pumping oil after 50k miles... yeah I know that engine...

    6. Franco Silver badge

      Saw a documentary once about the Longbridge plant. The body shop was on one side of the road and the paint shop on the other, so the unfinished body shells had to moved through British weather on a low-loader to be painted until they built the conveyor bridge.

      Can't top the 300000 miles car, but I did get an Alfa Romeo 159 to 150000 before I sold it and it was still solid.

      1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

        Been seeing reports of a US Tesla owner hitting 450,000 miles (on its 3rd battery pack) and still going strong.

        1. cambsukguy

          Jeez, that's 400 miles a day, every working day, every week, for 5 years.

          Even if they had it longer, still amazing.

          Very American.

          1. TRT Silver badge
            Devil

            It helps if you don't turn on the autopilot. Lasts forever then. Autopilot on = software defined obsolescence.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              You mean autopilot on = Darwin award

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Well there are a couple of snags to work out yet regarding the repeat custom bit when the owner is as likely to be made obsolete as the car...

      2. Semtex451 Silver badge

        @ Franco

        You got an Alfa Romeo 159 to 150000 before you sold it and it was still solid?

        Oh look, a flock of pigs overhead.

        1. Emjay111

          Hey, enough with the Alfa Romeo abuse !

          My 164 reached just under 200K before I sold it. The current owner has passed 250K in it. The twin cam engines with a timing chain (not belt) are bullet-proof.

        2. Franco Silver badge

          Wow, a joke about Alfa Romeo reliability, I bet you're a hit at parties.

      3. james_smith Silver badge

        Same problem with 70s era MGs. Body panels pressed and assembled at the original MG plant in Abingdon, then driven on an open trailer to the Rover plant in Oxford for painting.

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    And an added bonus ...

    is that your bonus actually glows in the dark.

    I'll get me coat. The lead-lined one, please

  3. Chronos Silver badge
    Stop

    Stop it.

    You're pressing all my pet hate buttons. Deliberately. Far better to keep adequate kit working for longer than have it fall to bits on cue. The real problem with consumerism is the "keeping up with the Joneses" element or, in the connected age, your e-peen.

    BTW, polylactic acid or PLA that we 3D printing nuts like to say is biodegradable is only biodegradable under certain circumstances with the right bacteria. The stuff generally doesn't turn into mush and compost on its own.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Stop it.

      Agreed. We have a wicker shopping basket and some thick cotton bags. They will biodrade eventually, but, more importantly, we have been using the same bags and basket for over a decade... The same for the plastic fold-boxes, the newest is 10 years old, the others date back to the end of the 90s. If you are going to use non-biodegradable materials, then don't make disposable products with them!

      We have some chars kicking around from the 19th and early 20th century, but the modern sofas don't even last half a decade! The last one, a nice leather reclining sofa, which cost a fair packet and we thought would last, only held out for about 5 years. This time we bought cheap and durable, so will probably last 5 years as well, but cost about a fifth of what the expensive one did.

      My mother got a Sunbeam mixer when she married in the 60s, it lasted until the early 2000s, being used at least once a week. My wife has been through 3 mixers since I met her, and they weren't used nearly so often!

      Coffee-to-go? I always use my thermos cup. At work I have a cheap Ikea thermo flask for tea, I've been using it for nearly 2 decades and it cost about a tenner. There are solutions to some of these problems that are easy, but we are generally too lazy to bother. Why carry a thermos cup with you for coffee, when you get a free environmental nightmare cup in the coffee shop? Better still, make an extra cup of coffee in the morning before you leave the house and pour it in the cup and take it with you, no queuing and you save yourself a small fortune! And if you do need a supplemental caffeine injection during the day, you can still use the cup.

      For technology products that are quickly superceded, there isn't much you can do - maybe biodegradable casings - but for established markets that don't change fast, we should reward manufacturers who make products for longevity, not short lifespans and gimmicks.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Just a few weeks ago my wife had the idea to stop using plastic water bottles to take on the road. I fully agreed with her and we decided to buy a set of aluminum thermoses that we use now. Not only do they look a hell of a lot better than plastic bottles, I now have fresh water available for most of the day.

        And I am no longer polluting the environment with used plastic water bottles.

        I only regret one thing : that it took me fifty-two years to realize that.

        1. Nick Kew

          Plastic water bottles are a Good Thing.

          I always keep a couple of them around the place. Then I can fill one to take with me when I go out for long enough to get thirsty. Or just fill with water and put in fridge, with a hint of extra flavour like mint or lemongrass.

          As for plastic waste, yes it's a problem. But not a permanent problem in the sense of CO2 emissions. Plastic is organic and energy-rich. There's an ecological niche for things that can digest it. Nature abhors a vacuum, and something is sure to evolve to fill it. Though what might happen in the meantime isn't nice.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            We use glass bottles for the fridge - we have 4 Sodastream glass bottles, which we use for cold, still water.

            On the move, we have the thermos bottles / cups. They hold the water cold (or the coffee hot).

            We try to avoid plastic bottles as much as possible, mainly using returnable glass bottles, where they are available. The water tastes better out of glass bottles as well. And you don't get emollient/plasticizer mixed in with the water from cheap plastic or from bottles left in the sun.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            CO2 emissions aren't a permanent problem either. Life actually requires it to continue existing, unlike plastics, and in geological terms we're at close to starvation levels for the stuff.

            1. Nick Kew
              Alert

              They are a very long term problem (how many millions of years was the Carboniferous era that laid down most of those deposits and terraformed Earth to a planet that could eventually support evolution of the first mammals)? As good as permanent as far as those life-forms that don't survive the reverse terraforming are concerned.

              As for nature's cleanup, that would be something that photosynthesises rapidly and aggressively. An ocean-wide algal bloom might accelerate healing, but would be Very Bad News for many (most?) of today's life forms.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                CO2 residence is on the order of a few years. As I said, life needs the stuff to continue, so any excess is rapidly absorbed by expanding flora exploiting the available resources.

                More CO2 than we have now is better than less. C3 plants (which make up most of our staple food crops) stop photosynthesis entirely around 180ppm, a level that was nearly reached within the lifetime of our own species. The general trend over the last couple of millions of years has been down, as CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by geological processes. Without fresh injections of CO2 to the atmosphere, we could expect all life but the most basic to perish on this earth within the next few million years.

                All plants photosynthsize most efficiently between 600ppm and 1000ppm. We should be aiming for that level, not trying to starve our staple crops out of misplaced fear of change.

                1. Chris 15
                  FAIL

                  Oh Really

                  <Utter Tripe Alert>

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Look up

                  The point at which carbon in the atmosphere becomes problematic to people.

                  Oh, look:

                  35 ppm Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure

                  100 ppm Slight headache in two to three hours

                  200 ppm Slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment

                  400 ppm Frontal headache within one to two hours

                  800 ppm Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours

                  1,600 ppm Headache, increased heart rate, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours

                  [And then it gets worse]

                  So you are suggesting we test this out on you first?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Look up

                    That's carbon monoxide, not dioxide.

                    But the other poster is quite wrong.

                    It was ferns that evolved in a high carbon dioxide environment. They removed it by growing, dying and forming what became coal deposits. Conifers and then flowering plants evolved as the CO2 dropped. This also made deciduous plants and grasses possible, thus creating the habitats that made our ancestors possible. We are here because of low CO2. It's no good saying levels were higher millions of years ago because we could not have lived in that environment.

                    Many modern plants cannot tolerate high CO2 levels because it affects the pH of their leaves (where gaseous exchange takes place.) They are not adapted for levels of 600ppm and above.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Look up

                      My bad! Was the one off the top of my head, without coffee. XD

                      I had a strange feeling I'd make that mistake. (I blame Google trying to be helpful and not actually searching what was typed, and I blame my dyslexia for taking an age or two to realise mono/dioxide prefixes while reading/typing).

                      " In concentrations up to 1% (10,000 ppm), it will make some people feel drowsy and give the lungs a stuffy feeling.[117] Concentrations of 7% to 10% (70,000 to 100,000 ppm) may cause suffocation, even in the presence of sufficient oxygen, manifesting as dizziness, headache, visual and hearing dysfunction, and unconsciousness within a few minutes to an hour.[119] The physiological effects of acute carbon dioxide exposure are grouped together under the term hypercapnia, a subset of asphyxiation."

                      So we have a LONG way to go then. Back to double checking everything I must go. :)

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Thumb Up

                        Re: Look up

                        At least you're the kind of decent person that admits a mistake, unlike the other poster who exposed their ignorance of biology, and then downvoted a simple, factual correction. They haven't even the excuse of being a Creationist since Creationists don't believe the climate was ever different (dinosaurs are either faked fossils by God testing our faith or didn't fit the Ark's gangplank.)

          3. Mage Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Plastic water bottles

            Cleaning can be a problem. Stuff grows in water. You need wide neck and proper cleaning, not just a rise.

            1. Mage Silver badge

              Re: Plastic water bottles

              Rinse.

              No, I'm not using a phone or a mac book pro, I'm just a rubbish typist.

              1. J. Cook Silver badge

                Re: Plastic water bottles

                a drop of dishwashing liquid, fill it half full of hot water, cap it, shake it around a good couple times, hole it upside down as you unscrew the cap to force the soapy water through the threads, and a double hot water rinse. that usually works.

                (at least, that's how I wash out the hydroflask work bought for each person in the department- cheaper than buying 10+ cases of bottled water every week...)

                1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                  Re: Plastic water bottles

                  Or shove it in the dishwasher with the rest of the washing. The neck and the lid are the important things and with good placement will get washed well (remember to leave the lid "open" if it's that sort of lid). My investigations suggest that even narrow-necked bottles do get some washing right inside, if they are placed correctly. For example, a bottle previously used for Ribena doesn't smell or taste of the stuff after a dishwashing.

                  That said, we don't use Ribena since they've dropped the sugar from the recipe. Not only does it not taste the same, it doesn't last anywhere near as long. If they wanted to avoid the sugar tax (and this goes for other providers of such drinks too) could they not provide a concentrate without any sweetener, and let us add a couple of spoons of sugar at home if we wanted to?

                  Probably good though; we drink more plain water these days.

                  M.

          4. drewsup

            Hmmm, trying to remember the sci-fi short story of intelligent alien microbes that digested plastic straight to alcohol....

          5. Patrician

            You really wouldn't want something to evolve that can digest standard plastics.

      2. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: Stop it.

        My mother got a Sunbeam mixer when she married in the 60s, it lasted until the early 2000s, being used at least once a week. My wife has been through 3 mixers since I met her, and they weren't used nearly so often!

        Mrs Chronos has one of the old Moulinex Masterchef processors. Its jug interlock failed a few years back but she was adamant she wanted it repairing because the new ones are, in her own words, "designed by bean-counters and assembled by muppets," so one destroyed relay for some decent contacts and a bit of soldering later, "Brenda the blender" was fully operational again. The work was simple, the pride was in herself and her BOfHness. It's still in service now.

        For technology products that are quickly superceded

        But are they? I have a Toshiba Tecra here that is all but obsolete, yet it took 8GB of RAM and an SSD. Being a CoreNumberNumeral something-or-other¹ it is no slouch in the CPU department for everyday tasks and, with Devuan on it, it's fast enough that I'm not even considering replacing it. Unless there's a compelling reason for the Latest'n'Greatest™ I see no logical advantage to buying it except lightening the weight of one's wallet. How much of this continuous upgrade->throw away cycle is peer pressure?

        It's the same with 'phones. I have a Wileyfox Storm here that works fine, gets Pie security updates through LineageOS and is fast enough. Even though it has a couple of design flaws, I'm not replacing it unless and until it fails to do something I need it to do.

        Don't even get me started on cars. The 1994 Daihatsu is still going strong, TYVM.

        ¹ I don't care enough to remember the T number. It's fast enough.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Stop it.

          I was thinking about the first couple of generations of products, E.g. smartphones between 2007 and 2010, or PCs during the late 80s and early 90s. The performance and capability increases were exponential, we went from 4.77Mhz to 1Ghz in just over a decade. The old kit was old in a year to 18 months. If you were doing a lot of processing, it was often more economical to replace the kit than leave it running - if a process took 4 hours to complete and replacing the PC got it down to 1 hour, that was a lot of saved time and money.

          As the markets mature, the lifecycle extends - as you note. I worked for a company in 2010 who thought their 2002 PCs were still state-of-the-art. They still ran and the employees could still work on them, if a little slowly at times. The same with my 2010 Sony Vaio, an SSD gave it a new lease of life (it already had 8GB RAM). The original battery still lasts just over an hour (2.5 when new).

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: smartphones between 2007 and 2010,

            I think 4th gen.

          2. Esme

            Re: Stop it.

            Some years ago, I bought a refurbished PC, the kind that lays flat and you stick a monitor on top. Had it for the better part of a decade myself, then a year or two ago passed it on to a friend whose Win95/98 (I'm unsure which, but from their description was almost certainly one or the other) PC had finally given up the ghost, and him and his wife are still happily using it (running Linux Mint) now. Does perfectly well for browsing the web, sending emails and suchlike.

            Compared to them, I'm a power user - because I like playing games, and my gaming machine is also a refurb, no idea how old it is, but I suspect better part of a decade, but thanks to Steam, there's plenty of decent games of the types I like to play that I can play. Sure, I'd love to have been able to afford to buy a bespoke gaming rig, but I'm not sure I;d have bought one even if i could, because my experience with refurbed PC's has been so good - they just seem to keep on going and going. I guess its because they're made up of components that didn't die quickly, and so are probably sligjhtly better quality than average (there's always going to be some variability in build quality), so they last longer.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stop it.

            The point about processing power for professional use is spot on. Years ago I was talking to a guy who had just replaced a top of the range Mac with a new one that had 7% more speed.

            It was worth it to him because it was being used for rendering, and although 7% doesn't sound like a lot, it's the difference between the overnight job finishing at 9a.m. and 10a.m., a whole hour of lost productivity at advertising agency hourly rates.

        2. cambsukguy

          Re: Stop it.

          I endeared myself to my future in-laws when, told that the microwave didn't work any more, promptly asked for a screwdriver, disassembled it and pinched the spade connectors.

          Since they were WW2 vets and considered waste a sin, they were made up.

          Fixing the TV power switch (by passing it completely in fact so they had to use the wall switch for power - no remote control for them) only added to the admiration.

          Fixing stuff that appears totally broken is very rewarding. I met my girlfriend 'repairing' her laptop.

          Swapped out the phone camera from a broken unit for my girlfriend last week to 'fix' a focussing problem and replaced the system board in this laptop to keep my favourite laptop going, for 40 quid. Added a cheapo 60GB SSD to make it zoom - having not realised it could have that capability until I repaired it!

          1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            Sounds like you’d have a fun time volunteering at a repair cafe somewhere near you.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Stop it.

          "The 1994 Daihatsu is still going strong, TYVM."

          I wonder where the break-even point is in terms of running a 25 year old car considering it's fuel consumption and likely emission rates and a new, more fuel efficient and less polluting car, taking into account the environmental effects of scrapping the old one and building the new one.

          1. Chronos Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            You really have to see the big picture for that one. You have to factor in recycling energy, transportation costs, the footprint of creating the replacement, longevity, parts, electronic waste (it's worse now everything is electronic) and so on. The Sportrak has a 1.6l Bosch controlled mulit-point fuel injected sixteen valve engine; it's Japanese so it's about as efficient as anything modern from non-Japanese manufacturers could possibly be. The early ones were carburated, admittedly.

            There's also herself's 57 plate Aygo in disguise which returns mid-sixties MPG and the ancient '91 Rover SLD which returns the high fifties, although using the oily fuel. The latter is off the road right now as I haven't plucked up the courage to try to take the gearbox off to replace the pressure plate which is short of a few release fingers as it also needs a rear crank seal, which means taking the sodding flywheel off. 240k miles on the same clutch isn't bad, though...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stop it.

            Airbags and pretensioners have to be replaced after a period between 10 and 15 years. It is possible to keep a car at its original safety levels for 30 years or more - but I understand that the complex airbag systems on some modern cars are such that it is not economical to replace them because by then the replacement costs far more than the residual value of the car.

            So to a degree it depends what value you put on your life. Older cars tend to be lighter, modern ones are heavier, so it's easy to see which compresses most in a crash.

        4. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Linux

          @Toshiba Tecra

          When it gets too old to run Windows, either due to the processor being too slow for the latest bloatware, or because drivers are no longer available, throw Linux on it and give it a 2nd life. You probably won't do any serious gaming on it (though I'm suspecting that isn't your thing), but it should be more than acceptable for everything else.

          I work in IT (like so many here) and am still using a desktop that I built in 2011, which is pretty old by today's standards. I'll upgrade it someday, but there's so many other things I'd rather spend $500-1K on right now.

      3. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Stop it.

        The story on bag re-use and environmental impact is apparently complex, for cotton to be worthwhile you have to re-use it for along time (as you have). The most pressing crisis is CO2 really, so it's necessary to keep an eye on that over plastics pollution (the two don't necessarily have the same optimum approaches). E.g. https://ourworldindata.org/faq-on-plastics (just a quick find, not sure about reliability).

        we should reward manufacturers who make products for longevity, not short lifespans and gimmicks.

        But economic growth!

        1. deive

          Re: Stop it.

          Upvote, but I still would say "the two don't necessarily have the same optimum approaches" is wrong as plastic are made from oil, which is by far the largest contribution to our CO2 output?

          1. Swarthy Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            But plastic is a long-term carbon sink. The plastic in our oceans is oil that didn't get turned into carbon in our air.

            Now, admittedly, a good solution for both would be to leave the oil in the ground; but where's the profit in that?

          2. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            Only if you burn the plastic; oil made into plastic is oil not burned. Of course you may burn other oil to get the energy to run the process, just as you may burn oil to smelt aluminium or in farming and processing cotton, or in recycling.

        2. Rol Silver badge

          Re: Stop it.

          Go one better, and levy a disposal tax at the factory gate / port / border.

          This tax would be based on the current cost of disassembly and responsible disposal.

          eg a simple ballpoint pen, with metal and an assortment of different plastic bits would be taxed more heavily than, say, a ballpoint pen that uses only one polymer type throughout.

          With the cost of disposal having already been paid, and that money having been thoughtfully distributed to councils and other entities responsible for our waste, it would have the effect of cutting council tax, while encouraging growth in modern recycling plants, capable of qualifying for disposal bonuses out of the fund, as they put less and less into landfill.

          The flip side of the coin, is that designers will be encouraged to make their products easily recyclable, and hence incur minimal disposal tax.

          If the market is all about everyone paying for everything they use, rather than forcing those costs on the entire community, then billing the people who make the junk that ends up in landfill is a natural progression.

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            Go one better, and levy a disposal tax at the factory gate / port / border.

            This tax would be based on the current cost of disassembly and responsible disposal.

            Supposedly something along these lines is already done in WEEE, but I suppose it could be extended. (And perhaps made to actually work, for an individual in the UK who doesn't own a car WEEE disposal is pretty non-existent.)

            1. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: Stop it.

              Yes, it annoys me that they get away with simply saying 'take it to your household waste recycling centre'.

              No, I'll bring it back to you, and you can.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: Stop it.

                In Germany stores that sell electronics have to take the stuff back without charge. That also includes Amazon - if you order white goods, they automatically ask if you want the old one taken off your hands when the new one is delivered.

                1. jmch Silver badge

                  Re: Stop it.

                  Same in Switzerland, and that also includes used batteries etc

                  1. yoganmahew

                    Re: Stop it.

                    Erm, it's the same in the UK too...

                    It's not advertised but you can both return to the shop you originally bought from or get the delivery man (for larger items) to take the old one away with them.

                    It's an EU thing...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_Electrical_and_Electronic_Equipment_Directive

                    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                      Re: Stop it.

                      "Erm, it's the same in the UK too"

                      At present.

                      The delivery guys who brought our new washing machine a couple of years back got a nasty shock at the weight of the old-style one they removed.

                    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

                      Re: Stop it.

                      It's even more general than "take the old one", you can ask them to take any old white goods, following common sense. It's to ensure things go in the right supply chain rather than being dumped.

                      While I have gotten them to take about a skip load of old stuff (previous owner left ~15 small CRT monitors) I did warn them, and suggest that they come last.

                      It being the Netherlands my local busybody got on my case about having the monitors piled up outside, even when I pointed out they'd be gone by that evening...

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            Except, the tax would be collected in China and the product disposed of in another country.

            I would work for locally made stuff - and making the stuff locally should be a goal. It is crazy that shipping a product half way around the globe is cheaper than making it "next door".

            1. Rol Silver badge

              Re: Stop it.

              "factory gate / port / border"

              The concept of transferring the disposal tax as the goods travel was obviously implied, in much the same way exported goods don't incur tax in the source country, but in the destination country.

              Also implied are the charges on goods from nations that chose not to take part be levied at the point of entry into the "ecosystem".

          3. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Stop it. Disposal tax

            There is one (with several points) obvious flaw in your plan.

            Taxes very rarely go to pay for the service used to justify them.

            Once the money comes in it goes to cover the most urgent shortfall.

            Then Central Government cut back funding of local Councils because they have a new revenue stream.

            Then urgent awareness moves to another area.

            Capitalism revokes the additional tax.

            The local Councils lose the revenue but don't get a replacement from Central Government.

            Recycling services are cut as uneconomic.

            You are then left with an item on which you paid a recycling premium on purchase but you now cannot recycle.

            Lies, damned lies, and Government spending promises.

            1. Rol Silver badge

              Re: Stop it. Disposal tax

              At which point the tax no longer gets passed onto the distributing government as they have by default left the scheme.

              Similarly, products originating in that country, whether they have already paid the tax locally or not will incur the tax again as it enters a country that isn't morally corrupt.

              I think that would focus even the most debase of our politicians into never tampering with the system again.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Stop it. Disposal tax

              "There is one (with several points) obvious flaw in your plan. etc"

              There's a great deal to be said for ring-fenced taxes, not least that the Treasury absolutely hate them. The hate, of course, is indicative of the fact that it prevents them playing the silly tricks the OP describes.

          4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            "Go one better, and levy a disposal tax at the factory gate / port / border.

            This tax would be based on the current cost of disassembly and responsible disposal."

            Let me add another category. Junk mailers to pay the recycling costs to the councils to whose areas they address mail.

          5. Kernel Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            "With the cost of disposal having already been paid, and that money having been thoughtfully distributed to councils and other entities responsible for our waste, it would have the effect of cutting council tax, be squandered on totally unrelated things, "

            There, fixed that for you.

      4. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Stop it.

        I noticed an odd thing while in Chicago last month: during conference breaks, colleagues would serve themselves from the coffee urn into the takeaway cups with plastic lids even though there were plentiful quantities of regular ceramic mugs. They weren't for takeaway - we were all in a conference together, sitting in rows of name-carded desks. I suppose it's just habit.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Stop it.

          "I suppose it's just habit."

          Or they've been trained over years to "enjoy" the taste of coffee from plastic or waxed cardboard cups. Personally I find the taste of coffee from disposable cups to be quite different from using a proper ceramic cup or mug, and not in a nice way!. It's probably just the texture sensation on the lips, but it feels like a different taste.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            Or it could be a way to eke out the coffee a bit longer. Disposable cups tend to hold slightly more than a "standard" mug (and often it's not a mug that is supplied, but a cup-and-saucer) and are slightly better insulated (particularly when fitted with a lid) so in a long boring conference your coffee will stay drinkable for longer.

            A lid also helps avoid minor spills if you have limited space to put the cup, and avoids accidentally dropping your Biro into the cup if you are so bored you doze off.

            Lastly - and I suspect one of the more important reasons - you don't have to think about returning your cup to the tray when you are finished with it or - horror - actually arranging for all those mugs to be washed. You just leave it on the desk or the floor and someone else sweeps it into a bin bag along with all the other detritus you've scattered about. Bring back the Wombles.

            The obvious answer is to provide reusable lidded mugs. They don't even have to be plastic as there are some quite good Bamboo-based ones available now which are dishwashable. They are probably even better insulated than a disposable cup, though often they seem to have silicone lids. Silicone can also be dishwashed, but it does deteriorate eventually.

            Nothing beats tea from an unwashed ceramic mug though :-)

            M.

        2. Julz Silver badge

          Re: Stop it.

          My first working visit to the states in the late nineties I had the same shock. Why were all the people in the hotel using the nasty styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery when there were perfectly good ceramic and metal alternatives. A colleague from the area told me they were saving on the washing up!

      5. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Stop it.

        we should reward manufacturers who make products for longevity, not short lifespans and gimmicks.

        But the company boards and stockholders won't like it one bit. It's all about turnover, sales, profit, etc.

        1. Rol Silver badge

          Re: Stop it.

          It's back to the everlasting lightbulb scenario.

          A situation that I would love to see, where a company exists to make enough everlasting lightbulbs that it eventually becomes nothing more than a stock holder, with manufacturing having long since ceased to be of any purpose.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            It's back to the everlasting lightbulb scenario.

            You'd still get a replacement cycle when technological advances would offer the same performance for less ongoing cost (filament bulbs -> CFL -> LED), or significantly more performance for the same ongoing cost (computers). The Everlasting Lightbulb Co should be sufficiently forward-looking to have R&D budget available for such changes.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Stop it.

            "It's back to the everlasting lightbulb scenario."

            At least as far as filament light bulbs were concerned there was a trade-off between life and efficiency.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          But the company boards and stockholders won't like it one bit.

          How about we compost them? They're mostly biodegradable, and intrinsically worthless anyway.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: But the company boards and stockholders won't like it one bit.

            Have you taken into account the fact that if you have a pension scheme or various other forms of savings you're a stockholder yourself.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stop it.

        I can actually beat your shopping bag.I bought some green cotton bags in a German supermarket (to piss off certain people because they had the slogan "Umwelt Wir helfen Dir". That was in 1992. I finally disposed of them to Oxfam for recycling in 2017, 25 years later.

        But sofas? G-plan. Still rock sold.

      7. Mike Pellatt
        Coat

        Re: Stop it.

        We have some chars kicking around from the 19th and early 20th century

        I bet they're a bit slow getting the cleaning done these days.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radioactive money

    The idea of 'expiring' money was suggested as an alternative to all the quantitative easing malarkey. Instead of giving money to banks to stash in the Cayman Islands, you give money to pensioners, with the proviso that it can't be saved, it has to be spent or you lose it. So they spend on shiny things, and people who make shiny things don't go bankrupt. The money will, of course, still eventually find its way to the Cayman Islands, but it hopefully will have done some good on the way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radioactive money

      I always thought that would have been a better way to dish out the dosh that bail out the banks with billions.

      Give everyone a house / pay off a mortgage.

      Sounds ridiculous until you consider that you now have about £1000 per month of disposable income.

      That's enough to go out to restaurants, bars, buy that bit of luxury, or new tech.

      Each of those requires people to be employed, in fact you will need to employ more people to keep up with the demand, each of those getting wages that can be spent on stuff, requiring people to make / sell stuff.

      What happened instead is the bankers got bailed out from their stupid bets with each other, were allowed to keep making stupid bets with each other, and bunged the rest offshore while failing to lend to small businesses like they promised.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Radioactive money

        If you gave money to the people, people would pay off their debts and then the fiat monetary system would collapse because it's based on debt.

        We should have just let dodgy banks go bust and pony up compensation for any affected account holders.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Radioactive money

          It's based on government debt, not our private debt.

          This is also a gross simplification of what actually props up fiat currency.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Radioactive money

            A banks can loan more money than it has on its books, within its debt-to-equity limit which is higher than 1 (the important part). When a bank loans someone money it usually ends up in another bank, is considered equity, and so the cycle continues.

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: We should have just let dodgy banks go bust and pony up compensation [..]

          And we should have put the entire board of those banks into prison.

          For the rest of their fucking lives.

          As an example to the rest.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We should have just let dodgy banks go bust and pony up compensation [..]

            > As an example to the rest.

            Agreed. Some crimes have such major consequences that retrospective legislation and punishments are worth invoking. All of Lehman Brothers top 100 (if not top 500) managers deserve 20 year stretches apiece.

            1. Mike Pellatt

              Re: We should have just let dodgy banks go bust and pony up compensation [..]

              All of Lehman Brothers top 100 (if not top 500) managers deserve 20 year stretches apiece.

              You know all of Lehman Brothers unsecured creditors were repaid 100% in 2014, and since have been paid interest ??

              Not saying that they behaved ethically, but it turns out that on unwinding things, it wasn't quite so bad.

              PWC made a tidy penny out of it......

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: better way to dish out the dosh

        Apparently the reason you don't just hand out real cash to people is because that isn't reversible.

        The idea is (at least as far as I recall) - instead you create virtual money and lend it to banks to encourage them to keep lending, thus hopefully keeping the economic wheels oiled; but when that encouragement is no longer needed, you get that virtual money repaid back, and can delete it. This means the inflationary effect of the QE can be also minimised.

        However, that doesn't make it seem any fairer, even if it is more economically sensible.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: better way to dish out the dosh

          Apparently the reason you don't just hand out real cash to people is because that isn't reversible

          It's easily reversible. When the economy picks up again you raise some tax or other. If you are being sensible you do it in a time-limited or at the very least an hypothesised way.

          The main problem is making sure that the money goes where it is needed and in a fair way. Paying off debt is a great idea, but is it such a great idea that you insist people can only claim the money directly into their mortgage accounts? What if they don't have a mortgage or other loan? Does everyone get the same amount (proportionately affects "poorer" people more) or do you just pay off all loans, no matter how large?

          Instinctively I like the idea, but it needs some thinking-out. For example, if you let banks go bust as a deliberate policy, you probably also need fully to protect investors, rather than the current UK offering which only protects the first £80,000 with any one institution - as we are "between mortgages" at the moment, we have more than this limit sitting in one bank right now, and although it won't be there for very much longer it does make me incredibly nervous. You also need to set aside some money to sort out the mess when a bank goes bust, perhaps to "nationalise" the institution temporarily so that millions of people don't suddenly find themselves unable to pay for the weekly shop, or behind with the direct-debit gas payments in the middle of January.

          Thanks for the intellectual work-out first thing on a Sunday morning :-)

          M.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: better way to dish out the dosh

            Raise tax or ask 1 bank for the money back. Hence the reason it's done with banks and governmental bonds/etc.

            "Run on the bank" etc are actual things they try to prevent, as controlling a crowd is harder than managing a bank.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: better way to dish out the dosh

          "but when that encouragement is no longer needed, you get that virtual money repaid back, and can delete it."

          Slight snag here. We don't seem to get to that position, at least not until inflation has devalued it to the point where it's become loose change.

        3. Dagg

          Re: better way to dish out the dosh

          >>Apparently the reason you don't just hand out real cash to people is because that isn't reversible.

          The Australian labor party did just that during the last GFC they gave everyone a handout. Conservative opposition whined about how all the poor would be buying big screen TV etc.

          But hey, it worked and australia rode thought the GFC with bugger all problems.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Radioactive money

        > Sounds ridiculous until you consider that you now have about £1000 per month of disposable income.

        No it still sounds ridiculous. :-)

        [Because, QE is reversible: if the economy overheats it can be reined in. Paying off everyone's mortgage is not so easily reversible.]

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Radioactive money

        "Give everyone a house / pay off a mortgage."

        Already owning a house with the mortgage paid off, does that mean I just get a lump sum into my bank account or do I miss out on this "free" handout?

    2. Rol Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Radioactive money

      Even easier - vote to remain in the EU, where measures are afoot to force the CIty of London to open up the entire can of worms they have dotted around the globe in quaint little Island territories.

      The list of the top one hundred thieves that forced transparency would reveal wouldn't deviate much from the top one hundred rich list.

      The icon is your average Cayman Island depositor rifling through the pockets of coats left in a school cloakroom.

    3. druck Silver badge

      Re: Radioactive money

      I had an Economics teacher who would muse how much fun it would be if cash was made from radioactive isotopes with a short half-life. He wasn't hoping to irradiate the population so much as to see what might happen to consumer spending habits if everyone knew they had to dispose of their pay packet before it blinked out of existence.

      Some bloody economics teacher that hasn't heard of hyperinflation. Ask Venezuela .

    4. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Radioactive money

      You could even have done it with money that doesn't expire. Specifically, instead of bailing the banks out to the tune of 30k per head, each person gets a ten year 30k term deposit at the bank of their choice. Or perhaps forced to have it at their main bank.

      It would have (in saving the banks) achieved exactly the same thing. Giving people direct spending money is also a pretty good solution to a temporary loss of consumer confidence.

      But that's not how these things work. Heads they win, tails we lose.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Automobiles

    I read recently that there are thousands and thousands of brand new vehicles that do not get sold. They just get parked in some lot in a desert somewhere... Maybe we need to change how and 'when' we manufacture things? Want a new car, great, go to the dealership, and place an order. Your new vehicle will be produced as needed, you can take delivery in 4 weeks...

    In the end, the human race will drown in a sea of plastic packaging.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Automobiles

      The vehicles you're thinking of, wouldn't happen to be VWs' Smog Generators, would it?

      There's a whole desert filled with Golfs, Caddies and others with the 1.6Turbo Diesel in them.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Automobiles

        > There's a whole desert filled with Golfs...

        We built a desert for just that purpose: the new Berlin airport (BER), now used a storage for those cars. Don't let that icon fool you -------->

    2. Alfie
      Headmaster

      Re: Automobiles

      Four weeks? I wish!

      My wife's car was a special order (for the non-black interior) and it took nearly six months. Lucky we weren't in a hurry for it.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I scream

    Who could forget ice cream also came in cardboard packs in one of three flavours which we all know so I won't bore you with repeating them here, and after a few months when the cardboard went manky and mixed in with the ice-cream we ate it anyway and we were happy for it and it never did us any harm (twitch).

    So the pack was eco-friendly but judging by the colour the ice cream was probably made of radium.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I scream

      "after a few months"

      Ice cream kept in packaging for a few months? Does not compute.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: I scream

        Emergency Ice Cream. Made from dog milk ...

        1. Semtex451 Silver badge

          Re: I scream

          Strontium Dog

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: I scream

          Nothing wrong with dog's milk. Full of goodness. Full of vitamins. Full of marrowbone jelly. Lasts longer than any other type of milk, dog's milk.

          Lister: Why?

          Holly: No bugger'll drink it. And the advantage of dog's milk is that when it goes off it tastes exactly the same as when it's fresh.

          Norman Lovett a genuinely nice gent, who while we were eating ice cream up on the Space Needle in Seattle said to me "That it wasn't a day out without an ice cream".

          Icon because it's a AI head on a black screen.

      2. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: I scream

        It was dire muck. The raspberry ripple, for example, was so hard that you treated the ripple bits as fault lines. Then it thawed a bit, say a couple of degrees C, and turned into sandy crap that fused with the cardboard. As Dr_N hints, no bugger would eat it unless there was sod-all else.

    2. The First Dave

      Re: I scream

      I know you jest, but there was a period about a hundred years ago when lots of glass was made with some Uranium content, as a special feature!

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I scream

        I imagine that future civilisations will look back on us using plastic for everything with the same morbid curiosity that we do looking back on the Victorians sticking radioactive materials in everything they could.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I scream

          We would be very interested as Victoria died in 1901 and Marie Curie didn't isolate radium until 1902.

          I think you mean Edwardians.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: I scream

            "Uranium" glass goes back before the Victorians: Wikipedia link. Uranium glass was very popular in the Art Deco period, but Victorians liked it too.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I scream

              However, at the time nobody was interested in radioactivity. Uranium glass was invented sixty years before Becquerel, and although Becquerel discovered radioactivity because some plates got fogged, we reproduced the experiment at school and discovered that an ordinary photographer who did not store his uranium intensifier next to his plates would never discover it.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I scream

          The uranium in glass was a colourant. That's a separate issue to the fad for radioactive materials in Edwardian times. Individual fads come and go; fads as such are always with us.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I scream

        > when lots of glass was made with some Uranium content,

        The uranium in glass is perfectly safe, it's the safest (although expensive) way to store radioactive waste.

        All glass contains some radioactive bits of rock - it's a pain making some optical detectors, you have to chemically purify the glass to get the background down

        There are also a whole bunch of optically really useful glasses you can't get any more because they contain lead. Lead chemically bonded inside glass inside an optical instrument sent into space = because won't somebody think of the children !!!

        Meanwhile you can buy lead crystal glasses to drink from in any antiques shop.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I scream

          "All glass contains some radioactive bits of rock - it's a pain making some optical detectors, you have to chemically purify the glass to get the background down"

          K40 for one. When the Belfast carbon dating lab looked into the problem they calibrated and reused supposedly disposable containers for the scintillation counter samples.

  7. macjules Silver badge
    Pint

    I've spent enough of my own money on Belkin products that did that already.

    Have a beer, Sir. I have literally just had a Belkin "Wireless Charger" fail this morning. Mind you I had a bit of fun with Belkin Support, along the lines of,

    BS: "To fix these issues, try to move your phone slightly on the wireless charging pad or stand to align it correctly."

    Me: "Ok, I am standing, what next?"

    BS: "Not you, the phone"

    Me: "Silly you, the phone can not stand - it does not have legs"

    BS: "...."

    One more Belkin product consigned to the category of failed accessories.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: I've spent enough of my own money on Belkin products that did that already.

      The one exception is Belkin's ridiculously named FlipBlade Universal (i.e. hinged tablet stand). I've had mine for 7 years and it's still working. Oh, apart from the bit that fell off it, of course.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: I've spent enough of my own money on Belkin products that did that already.

        There's always a bit that falls off. They could save a fortune by omitting it from the design, and reduce plastic waste too.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: I've spent enough of my own money on Belkin products that did that already.

          They could save a fortune by omitting it from the design, a

          Then another bit would fall off, which is more likely to be a bit you don't want to fall off. So you leave the design as is, and run the widget through the bitfalleroffer at the end of the production line.Now with these fallen-off bits can be more easily recycled as they are all in a fallenoffbitsbin, of a single production process, and not mixed with other bits fallen off of other stuff.

      2. Semtex451 Silver badge

        Re: I've spent enough of my own money on Belkin products that did that already.

        "A Stand You’ll Flip For" indeed.

  8. joeW Silver badge

    "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

    What manner of publication would ever spread such nonsense?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Fox News ?

      Nonsense is their specialty.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

      Didn't that particular author recently leave? Or am I mixing up my contributors?

      1. joeW Silver badge

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        If memory serves me correctly, it was the editor. He's been gone for a few years now,

      2. Semtex451 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        Speaking of which, its been too long since there was some good wholesome Steven Fry bashing around here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

      I am sure the cold-blooded dinosaurs that roamed beyond what is now the Artic and Antarctic Circles are impressed by the green brigades' claims that "the Earth has never been this warm before!" but I'm old enough to remember how some moron in Cambridge thought fiddling the figures was a good idea, and all the stories from the same sources who said that Reality consistently failed to match their dire predictions because Reality was obviously wrong.

      The climate is always in a state of flux so blaming it all on humanity is at best a stupid mistake. I don't deny the climate is changing, I just challenge the suggestion that if I sit shivering naked and starving in a cave then the world will suddenly become a good and happy place - but try explaining the difference (between scepticism and denial) to some environmentalist and you'll stand a good chance of seeing just how close some people still are to primordial slime.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: if I sit shivering naked and starving in a cave

        You could probably use your straw man as a mattress, and also have a bit of a lie down, if that helps.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        The Earth is now as warm as it has ever been in the history of human civilization and continuing to get warmer. This is simultaneous with there now being about 7.5 billion people, versus 1 billion in the early 1800s and less than 0.5 billion prior to the 14th century. Further changes in climate will disrupt the balance onto which we're just about hanging, we know from history what happens when there's a sudden scarcity of resources: wars, famine, mass movement of people. There is a well-understood mechanism by which the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that are being emitted can warm the planet, and a rather telling correspondence between their increasing emission due to industrialisation and the warming of the climate.

        Given all this, pretending you've been asked to sit shivering naked in a cave and tarring those people who find the situation concerning as primordial slime, in the name of a 'scepticism' that often seems to start from the conclusion it wants to reach, seems a little... hubristic.

        1. drewsup

          Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

          The damage was done by the time we realized it, they have proven that the eco laws passed have worked... But now because the atmosphere is so clean, the clouds don't reflect enough sunlight that the polluted clouds did, causing the seas to warm... Ever seen pics from the early to mid 1900's? The amount of pollution in the air was visible.

          So by making the world cleaner, we have unmasked the damage already caused, we cant undo it, unless we put up carbon scrubbers everywhere and bury the waste. The horse left the barn years ago, but nobody noticed!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        So many ways to be wrong! Your post has 3 sentences (there isn't a world full stop shortage btw). You managed at least 9 falsehoods - are you actually Donald T?

        Dinosaurs weren't all cold blooded and could thermo-regulate. The polar living dinosaurs did live in a warmer planet but it was still cold in the high latitudes, not wildly different to today. No reputable 'green brigadista' has ever claimed that the world has never been this warm before - we are at our warmest in 125,000 years, and that's warm enough. Not sure who your 'moron in Cambridge' was - lot's of possible candidates. I'm guessing you meant Norwich, and he didn't fiddle anything. As for reality and predictions - prediction, 30 years ago, 0.8 degrees rise, actual 0.6 degrees - but adjusted for actual emissions and CFC reductions, the model predicts 0.6!

        No one ever blamed all climate flux on humanity. You kind of are denying it. Again, no one is asking you to sit naked in a cave (actually I will....). As scientists we understand the difference between scepticism and denial. One is based on evidence, hypothesis and continual testing of assumptions, and the other is blindly accepting a narrative peddled by Fox news. Your last statement about seeing how close some people are to primordial ooze - yup, I'll accept that. You are pretty close.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        As ever, XKCD is instructive: https://www.xkcd.com/1732/

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        "the cold-blooded dinosaurs that roamed beyond what is now the Artic and Antarctic Circles"

        You do realise, don't you, that the bits which are now beyond the Arctic and Antarctic circles weren't always where they are now? There's this thing called plate tectonics...

        OTOH climate and relative sea levels have never been constants. Those who insist that they are regardless of burning fossil fuels and those who insist they would be if we stopped are both deluded. However there has been no excuse for decades for the amount of valuable fossil carbons that have been stuffed up power station chimneys for the last many decades and the greens of past generations are largely to blame for that.

      6. Patrician

        Re: "the fantasy bliss of climate-change denial"

        Nobody "fiddled" the figures; here is the full story but not from The Daily Mail or Fox News:-

        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/feb/09/whistleblower-i-knew-people-would-misuse-this-they-did-to-attack-climate-science

  9. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Expiring money

    Spend it now or it disappears.

    The British government tried to implement this in the 80s, but lacked the nerve to carry it off. There have been successful implementations in Zimbabwe and various South American states. The classic example is the Weimar Republic.

  10. GlenP Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Already Happening...

    Not IT related but...

    I bought some compostable bin bags for lining the in-kitchen scraps bin so that when full I could just chuck the whole lot into the composter.

    They decomposed far better over a few days in the kitchen bin, thus negating their whole purpose, than they ever did outside. When I emptied the composter I kept fishing bits of them out and consigning them to landfill.

  11. werdsmith Silver badge

    Straws

    Instead of replacing plastic straws with paper or cardboard straws, why not try drinking liquids like an adult?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Straws

      My straws have a full metal jacket.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Straws

        "My straws have a full metal jacket."

        And, oddly enough to some people, metal straws are now a real thing you can buy. Take your own straw to save plastic. Take your own mug, to save plastic coated cardboard. Next? Take your own cutlery to save the plastic. Buy a sustainable cotton rucksack to carry all your permanent "green" goods in to save the planet! Comes complete with a dispenser for organic soap, a cotton towel and 2 litre water reservoir for washing your items on the go, easily refilled using our special canisters, available only on automatic subscription if you buy this WiFi connected rucksack which monitors usage and automatically reorders soap, water podules and clean towels, deliver direct to your GPS tracked location! But wait! There's more! Buy now for the low, low price and get a "free" pooper scooper and 3 whole days supply of biodegradable doggy doo bags (note, doggy doo bags degrade within 10 minutes once exposed to air and shit. Does not degrade if placed in bins or landfill, free wetwipes included)

        1. Toni the terrible
          Coat

          Re: Straws

          I have a set of stainless steel straws, they came from a cocktail drinks set. Washable nach.

          Kids like them too and I will never have to buy any straws ever again.

          Easy to pop in a pocket with my pen, rembering to remove the fluff before use of course.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Straws

      A lot of people make Mojitos with mint that has been crushed with a pestle so unless you want a mouth full of mint leaves a straw is a must. My bit for the environment is the two mojito straws I have, made of titanium.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Straws

        Be a real man. You have teeth, they act as a filter for the leaves. Works just fine.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Straws

          Life Hack: mint is edible

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Straws

            That as well. Although all of that mint in one gulp can be a little too refreshing. ;-)

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Straws

              Too much mint in the digestive tract can be an interesting thing. You leave lovely smelling turds. A bit like too much blackcurrant, except the fruitiness of that mixed in with the shit smell can be somewhat off-putting.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Straws

                Too much blackcurrant (or most fruits for that matter), and the smell when it comes out will be the least of your troubles...

    3. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Straws

      Because, as an adult I have cultivated facial hair.

      Consuming liquids and emulsions now requires special tools to avoid wearing them externally.

      Growing a beard may not seem like much, but its about the most meaningful thing I achieve at work.

      Also quite popular amongst my peers / demographic... the place looks like a casting call for a Hobbit movie..

      1. Dog11
        Big Brother

        Re: Straws

        Feh. I've got a beard that's maybe two decades old, and I don't have to drink through straws. Wiping your mouth (with the back of your hand, if you don't have a napkin) is usually enough, so long as you wash your face more than once a week.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Straws

        I'm with Dog11, I've had a beard for over 20 years and don't have any real problems with drinking. You learn how to drink "around" the beard and wipe off what does get caught.

    4. Haku

      Re: Straws

      "why not try drinking liquids like an adult?"

      You want to try saying that to quadriplegics?

  12. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Coat

    Just reminds me of my favourite quote I head on QI:

    "The radium water was working perfectly until his jaw fell off".

    I'll get me coat...

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "You could just pop your obsolete laptop in your compost bin alongside the grass cuttings, egg shells and potato peel."

    They'd need to do a better job than the so-called compostable plastic bags. A few years ago there were allegedly compostable bags for collecting kitchen waste. The waste composted, the bags didn't. Similarly the so-called bio-degradeable plastic bags the Co-op sold vegetables in. There seems to be a new generation in that in the last few days National Trust, English Heritage and Gardening Which magazines have all arrived in bags which claim to be compostable. We shall see - although I might pose it as a question to GW.

    I discovered, however, that Morrisons' paper bags are bio-degradeable. More than three carrots weight and they fall to pieces.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      These things are all "compostable" as in "compositble in an industrial composter"; they require three things to break down; heat, moisture and oxygen. Your home compost bin is probably missing at least one of those things. You might have a bit more luck with a big compost heap that gets left out in the rain and a regular turning, but they are intended for a big ol' bio-reactor type composter in a recycling centre somewhere downwind of any houses.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        More importantly - they break down quickly if left blowing around in the environment.

        Unfortunately the sort of people/countries that use them also have composting, they don't break down as well when buried.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "You might have a bit more luck with a big compost heap that gets left out in the rain"

        The previous generation didn't compost in a compost heap. I'll see what happens to the current generation.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Is your heap large enough to get hot? (oo-er missus, etc.) Does it get turned (to let oxygen in)?

          If the answert to both of the above is yes, I'd be genuinely surprised if they didn't degrade at elast enoguh to be in smallish fragements when you use the compost (and those fragments are only going to add structure to your soil while they degrade further, so not a bad thing). Unlike plastics, in a healthy soil, they should eventually get eaten up by various bugs and worms in any case.

  14. devTrail Bronze badge

    Poor article

    I don't know the end of the article, but at my old school judging from the first half it would have got a low grade for going off topic. What does all of this have to do with the title?

    After reading the first paragraphs of very well known and constantly repeated stuff I started going through it rather quickly, but I gave up before the end. Can anybody tell me where in the article it says about the clickbait topic radium?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Poor article

      You're not really new here so what's your excuse? This is a Dabsey article.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Poor article

      >> What does all of this have to do with the title?

      I see you are new to this. Books, films, theses and peer-reviewed papers have titles. News stories have headlines. Inconsequential weekly columns intended as a bit of a laugh have the first sentence in a large, bold font at the top. Also, I tend not to include a bibliography at the end.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Poor article

        How is this a poor article?

        It was entertaining (excluding the singing frog on amphetamines) and addressed some of the current problems with the World.

        1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

          Re: singing frog

          Plastic Bertrand is Belgian, you ignorant!

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the admittedly hackneyed example of certain Apple iOS products"

    Hackneyed. Nice one.

  16. SeanEllis

    The Roentgen Standard

    The oldest version of the "radioactive money" idea I have come across is an essay by SF writer Larry Niven, called "The Roentgen Standard".

    It explains a lot of the knock-on effects, including why rich people will still want gold.

    You can read it online here: http://www.larryniven.net/stories/roentgen.shtml

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: The Roentgen Standard

      Dated 1984 according to the ISFDB. So Dabbsy's prof has prior claim on the idea.

      http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?369951

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: The Roentgen Standard

      A currency with a short half-life already exists. By my calculations the half-life of the Venezuelan Bolivar was 26 days over the course of 2018.

      Not quite the "glowing" endorsement you might expect.

  17. Dr_N Silver badge

    Paper Milk Straws

    Humphreys! Run Away !!!!!!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Paper Milk Straws

      Watch-out, watch-out, watch-out, watch-OUT! There's a Humphrey about.

      1. CliveS
        Go

        Re: Paper Milk Straws

        If you hear a noise with your milk and your bowl,

        It must be the ten-thirty Humphrey patrol.

        In slippers with pom-poms for creeping about,

        Watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out, there's a Humphrey about!

        One Hundred Humphreys soft as silk,

        Off on their search for your Unigate milk.

        Get extra pintas or you'll be without,

        Watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out, there's a Humphrey about!

        The 70s, when ads were real ads...

  18. Dave559

    C-90s

    Just to make many of us feel old, I'm going to guess that we have probably now reached the point where at least 20% of The Reg readership are sufficiently Y (and possibly also PF) that they will have no idea what a C-90 is… :-D

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: C-90s

      C30 C60 C90, GO!

      Bow Wow Wow.

      Great track.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: C-90s

        >> C30 C60 C90, GO!

        I actually have this in its original form as a cassette single. Yellow plastic.

        1. Criggie

          Re: C-90s

          That is so Meta....

    2. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: C-90s

      Much less the Sinclair branded C-15s. However, it was great fun replacing my dad's classical cassette in the car with one that had a copy of Manic Miner on it, spooled just past the leader...

      Yes, little bastard was my name for the longest time. How did you guess?

    3. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: C-90s

      "20% of The Reg readership are sufficiently Y (and possibly also PF)"

      Those ones are too busy taking selflies to post on FB or some other Instashit.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: C-90s

      Weren't C-90s the trendy newfangled ones?

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: C-90s

        > Weren't C-90s the trendy newfangled ones?

        C-120 were, with their "play once, then scrape tape-salad out of player" feature.

    5. MJI Silver badge

      Re: C-90s

      My mum had two, one after another. My Dad had various including GS850.

      I had a GP100

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK.Gov's uber-twat of an environment minister

    That deserves an upvote in itself!

  20. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Milk Snatcher

    Maggie was Education Secretary, not Prime Minister, when she stopped free milk.

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Milk Snatcher

      To be fair, for around four months of the year it was bottled cheese by breaktime anyway.

      1. Santa from Exeter

        Re: Milk Snatcher

        @Chronos.

        Ah, yes, that would have been the Winter months when it was kept on the steam radiator so it didn't get too cold!

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Milk Snatcher

          Ah, yes, that would have been the Winter months when it was kept on the steam radiator so it didn't get too cold!

          First school, a Victorian building in North East England, it was to thaw the stuff out. Trouble was the milk changed from ice lolly form to cream cheese without passing through the liquid stage in between.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Milk Snatcher

            I still feel sick thinking about school 1/3 pint bottles of warm milk = 40 years later.

            Haven't been able to face milk since I left primary school

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Milk Snatcher

              Wow! Sounds like a quite a few people went to schools where the staff had no idea how to store the daily milk delivery. I can't ever remember any problems with the daily school milk when I was there. That would have been 1967 onwards when there still plenty of adults who likely grew up without a fridge in the house and so knew how to store milk safely.

              1. Chronos Silver badge

                Re: Milk Snatcher

                "Staff"? We had three teachers, each with two years' worth of brats to teach, and two dinner persons. The sodding milk was the least of their worries. It was dropped off in several miniature crates in skyscraper configuration and left on the veranda with all the bikes until 10:30.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Milk Snatcher

                "Sounds like a quite a few people went to schools where the staff had no idea how to store the daily milk delivery."

                Milk delivered from the farm was unpasteurised and fresh. Milk delivered to the school had a cooked taste; whether that was simply age or over-zealous pasteurisation I'm not sure but living in the country one knew the difference.

            2. Ghostman
              IT Angle

              Re: Milk Snatcher

              In Macon, Ga, USA, we had 1/2 hints of milk in glass bottles with the cardboard stoppers. If you couldn't get the little flap to come up with your fingernail to open it, you had to punch it down into the bottle with your thumb and get a small splash of milk if you were lucky. If not, you got a lap full of milk.

              Actually, there is no IT angle here.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Milk Snatcher

            We in our posh part of Hertfordshire had such full cream milk that when it was cold nobody wanted it thawed - you could scoop out the ice cream on top with a finger while waiting for the lower reaches to melt.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Milk Snatcher

      One of the best things she ever did!

      I detested school milk

  21. ElReg!comments!Pierre
    Flame

    Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

    The buggers are a PITA, too, if you are in the habit of reusing your shopping bags as garbage bags.

    1. Alfie

      Re: Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

      And dont use them to keep seed packets dry in your greenhouse either. A few months in the sun and they turn to dust. Guess how I know. :-)

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

        Don't use them to keep ANYTHING in. They degrade into a shower of centi- and milli-particles (bigger than micro- or nano-particles), spreading the former contents of the bag everywhere and coating everything in a statically charged fuzz of plastic.

        Trying to clean them up is like playing asteroids, except that the geometric progression of division into smaller and smaller objects in greater and greater numbers doesn't end after three hits.

        1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

          Re: Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

          Whoever came up with that bright idea needs a reality check.

          Every time I look at long term storage of "things that will really come in useful sometime honest" I am greeted by a litter of partially decomposed supermarket carrier bag.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

      Lidl here in Spain and I guess everywhere else, have American style brown paper sacks, they definitely degrade well.

      Usually as I am walking to the car.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

        Sadly Lidl in the UK still use normal plastic bags and multiuse ones.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Well, they DO make degradable carrier bags

          "Sadly Lidl in the UK still use normal plastic bags and multiuse ones."

          But not "single use" plastic bags. The only bags they sell are robust enough for multiple uses.

  22. Chris Miller

    You say aluminium, I say aluminium

    We're all supposed to say aluminium (as decreed by the final arbiter of such things IUPAC. In return, I have to remember to spell sulfur with an 'f'. (The original spelling, I think, until some Jacobean scholar decided sulphur looked Greeker - many differences in US English are based on British English c.1600, e.g. 'gotten'.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You say aluminium, I say aluminium

      IUPAC allows "aluminum" as a concession to the semi-literates over there <----.

      (American scientists spelt it correctly fore a long time till pressure from journalists stopped them).)

      1. dbtx

        guilty

        I ask for leniency and for someone to honestly tell what they used when making their tin foil hat, since we're all going to say the right things from now on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: guilty

          Tin foil, of course. Al foil has an oxide coating that makes it less effective when formed into a hat, whereas actual tin oxide is conductive and so the Faraday cage is much more effective.

          Mumetal is better still.

  23. BGatez Bronze badge

    How about just make the things serviceable

    Maybe a few more screws instead of glue in construction and less excuses as to why the battery must require a complete tear down to access.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: How about just make the things serviceable

      Forget it. There's no business like repeat business. What good's a one-and-done where you never see the customer again. Ever wonder why you don't see much traffic for Kirbyville or Electrolux vacuum cleaners?

  24. Chozo
    Facepalm

    You have to wonder...

    Three years ago my Eco-warrior neighbours persuaded me me to buy a environmentally friendly recycled polyester fleece. It was a bit expensive but nice enough and wore it with pride for doing my bit to save the planet. Fast forward to last week and they are in my face about micro-plastics and how my favourite piece of clothing is killing the planet... they haven't spoken to me since I pointed out it was them that sold it to me.

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime
      Terminator

      "hey haven't spoken to me since I pointed out it was them that sold it to me."

      I'd call that a win for you.

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: You have to wonder...

      And they failed to notice it was "recycled" so actually not a plastic waste problem, but part(ially) the solution.

  25. Joe Gurman

    American CEOs?

    I think you meant beknighted, English Design Chiefs.

  26. Anne-Lise Pasch

    Why is it...

    That if plastics do not decompose, its really hard to find original 1980s toys? Is there some scrapheap somewhere filled with G1 transformers, He-man snake mountains and MASK bases?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Why is it...

      I think you'll find all of those toys are in crates and boxes in the garages of boot fair sellers, along with the plastic troll things and McDoodoo's kids meal toys.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is it...

      Plastics don't decompose as such, but many of those toys contained plasticisers to make them shock resistant. The plasticisers slowly escape and then the plastic starts to crack under even slight deformation. This is part of how you get the particles in the ocean.

    3. JimC

      Re: Why is it...

      They do decompose of course. entropy cannot be defeated. Indeed they decompose a damn sight faster than glass and pottery. I don't know how things stand now, but forty years ago when I worked with PVC all the best stabilisers were being banned because of safety fears, and I'm pretty sure that at least some of the preferred replacements have been banned since.

    4. Remy Redert

      Re: Why is it...

      Because while the plastic molecules don't decompose and are nearly impossible to digest, the plastic fibers do fall apart. Those toys are now micro and nano plastics spread all over the environment. Or they got burned in a trash incinerator.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why is it...

      "if plastics do not decompose, its really hard to find original 1980s toys?"

      We have a container full of two generations' worth of Lego waiting for the third generation to come along. Sadly, I doubt we'll actually see them playing with it.

  27. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Social Credit

    what might happen to consumer spending habits if everyone knew they had to dispose of their pay packet before it blinked out of existence.

    It''s already been tried by the Social Credit government of Alberta in the 1930s.

    Following the 1937 revolt, the government made a serious attempt to implement social credit policies. It passed several pieces of radical populist legislation, such as the issuance of prosperity certificates to Alberta residents (dubbed "funny money" by detractors) in accordance with the theories of Silvio Gesell. Douglas, the main leader of the Social Credit movement, did not like the idea of prosperity certificates, which depreciated in value the longer they were held, and openly criticized Gesell's theories.

  28. herman Silver badge

    Plastics do degrade in nature very efficiently. Bottles and shopping bags certainly do not last forever - they only last a few years actually. The problem is that people litter faster than they degrade.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      They may degrade but only into smaller particles that find their way into the oceans.

  29. Dr Scrum Master

    Volcanoes

    Dump the whole plasticky mess of non-disposable disposable products into your local volcano and your waste problems are solved!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Volcanoes

      But your carbon dioxide emissions get worse, and if you include PVC you'll get hydrogen chloride gas.

  30. swm Silver badge

    Couldn't play video

    The video didn't play - something about copyrights in my country.

  31. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    If money decayed

    Millennials would have to spend their gig economy pittances, probably on smashed Avo on toast and goats cheese Lattes, instead of saving up for a deposit on a house and supporting the construction industry...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If money decayed

      And if the response is that the housing market is gutted anyway?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hate plastic bags...

    Plastic carrier bags are a huge waste of time, what with having to drive 35 miles to the nearest ocean to throw them in. Bloody 70 mile round trip every 2nd weekend.

    "Why?" Well you simply must do this, because otherwise there'd be little connection between plastic carrier bags in Western nations and the very real issue of plastic in the ocean (95% of which originates in just ten specifically identified river basins, where littering is rampant).

    So to maintain this conflation of two otherwise unrelated topics, we must make these efforts. We must all do our part.

  33. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    Plastics and CO2

    I've read through and I'm not sure I've found any reality so far.

    As far as I can find out online, plastics break down eventually into very small particles (down to nano particles) and migrate into the soil and water courses and then the oceans. They can then stay there, including in all stages of the food chain, for millennia. This may explain why your cod and chips tastes a little plasticy.

    CO2 tends to get removed from the atmosphere in 40-50 years which is used to justify burning forests as "renewable energy".

    In this thread I have seen the argument that "something will evolve to eat the plastic" (it did have a caveat) but this does smack of "magical thinking" much like the idea that the hard border problem in Ireland can be solved by "technology" or the various justifications for backdoors to encryption.

    My current uninformed view is that given the choice I would burn all the plastic and keep the problem for our generation to solve by reducing the immediate production of plastic.

    I wouldn't ban burning of plastic then let the planet spend millennia trying to deal with ubiquitous micro-plastic pollution. Otherwise known as kicking the (plastic) can down the road.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Plastics and CO2

      As long as anyone anywhere is still burning coal, then there are essentially zero rational objections to burning 'previously-purposed oil' (e.g. plastic carrier bags) in modern, clean burning, waste-to-energy incinerators.

      The kWh thus produced must displace, to some ratio, a bit of coal. And it's merely oil that was put to other uses along the way.

      Any organic waste (e.g. paper) in the waste stream that is converted to energy is weakly 'Renewable'.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Plastics and CO2

      CO2 tends to get removed from the atmosphere in 40-50 years which is used to justify burning forests as "renewable energy"

      Wood burning is essentially a closed cycle - the wood that's burned has been a standing crop that has been building up for a few decades. The C in the CO2 it releases into the air is the C that it removed from the air when it was growing so there's an equilibrium.

      Burning fossil fuels releases as CO2 carbon that was fixed many millions of years ago and that amount of C will hang around until it finds its way to another long term sink.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Biodegradable ?

    I still find intact peach stones in our garden that were thrown into the compost (by mistake) 25 years ago...

    ...just saying

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Biodegradable ?

      They represent a small amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere in permanent form. Think of it as doing your bit to save the planet.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    crisp, shiny, medicated paper

    So many questions....

    - Did this stuff ever degrade?

    - Apart from the obvious reasons (ie removal of any sensitive skin, ability to repel all moisture, a smear factor of 97.3%) where did it go? Was it added to the Geneva convention?

    - was its extinction caused by the destruction of its natural habitat of piss lakes and broken porcelain?

  36. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Devil

    Lactose Aaaaaahhh!!!

    School milk? the horror of it, luke warm milk. I have NEVER liked drinking unadulterated milk, probably because since being weaned I have been a normal mammal and lactose intolerant. I was living in NZ when Thatcher stole the kiddies' milk and I cheered. One of the good things about emigrating to the South Seas aged 6: no school milk.

    Mind you I thought it the only good thing Thatcher ever did. I would probably have gotten into fights over it had I still been a wean here in Scotland. Mind you I would probably have been involved in a running battle with the teachers over not drinking my sodding milk. It makes me feel bad miss.

    When I was 17 and running 100miles a week some post dinner ice cream once went through me in 40minutes. I timed it as I could feel it. NZ ice cream is lovely stuff too. I make my own LF ice cream since the supermarkets replaced the unlovely plain stuff with coconut and almond/soya milk ersatz things.

  37. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Details please

    BTW what does this biodegradable plastic degrade into? small bits of plastic would be my guess so I'm not going to put one into my compost bin.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Details please

      If it's genuinely biodegradable, carbon dioxide and water. If it's composted then partially that and partially that gel complex we normally call humic acid as an intermediate stage.

  38. Diez66

    Laptop from radium, Now I am a bit ignorant on how nuclear power stations work exactly, it's not a skill I have needed but from a simplistic point of view.

    How Wonderfully Green.

    Lots of radioactive laptops and they will all eventually need binning. They can all go to selective landfill, lets call it a reactor. Green Electricity!.

    The users of said laptops may pass early, convert to them to Solent Green. Recycling? as a side effect, population reduction, a Virtuous Circle.

    OK, radium, uranium not the same, Solent Green not real? But Hey, why let reality get in the way of, Hey that's a good idea!

  39. Spamfast Bronze badge

    Nivenesque fiducary ideas apart, hearing Platic Bertrand was so much fun, especially after seeing the UK & German EU election results. Quatsch!

  40. Toni the terrible

    Recyclable Vehicles

    I didnt bother to read all the above, so I am somewhat sorry if I am repeating this (though not much); but wasnt the Trabant particularly recylable and all half-timbered cars (Morris Traveller etc) compared to GRP and other plastics used in todays cars?

  41. mr-slappy

    Cash made from Radioactive Isotopes

    "I had an Economics teacher who would muse how much fun it would be if cash was made from radioactive isotopes with a short half-life... to see what might happen to consumer spending habits if everyone knew they had to dispose of their pay packet before it blinked out of existence"

    I think Germany ended up trying something similar between the wars - it didn't end well IIRC...

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