Open season on consumers with crummy appliances and gender-bending dishwasher soap

On May 27, 2024 (Memorial Day), Dan Bongino mentioned that dishwasher soap taints the taste of beverages unless he adds extra rinses. I noticed the same thing many years ago and wondered about its effect on the intestinal mucosal barrier, the primary component of which is the intestinal epithelium that is just a single cell layer thick. Disrupt that, and problems result, including serious ones that can shorten lives.

The bad news is that dishwasher detergent is highly effective at breaking down proteins and fats, and it cannot differentiate food residue on your dishes from cells lining your gut. The worse news is that this problem is not on the radar screen of almost every primary care physician, so they don't caution patients to minimize the problem with extra rinses and careful selection of detergents, which cling to different degrees: all are bad; some are terrible.

Illustrating the power of dishwasher detergent: I stopped my dishwasher mid-cycle to retrieve a fallen utensil. That required submerging my hand into soapy fluid at the bottom, which I did in less than one second. Although I thoroughly rinsed my hand immediately afterward, and skin is theoretically impermeable to detergent, it induced a large, painful skin crack at the tip of my right thumb.

A related problem is that certain brands are so loaded with phthalates to heighten scent that they persist even after two rinses (and they don't magically vanish, instead contaminating your home air). Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that feminize men, masculinize women, reduce intelligence, create other havoc throughout the body and mind, and trigger social problems that snowball into others. Good primary care physicians would counsel patients about this risk and the thousands of others they overlook, triggering problems that cannot be erased with pharmaceuticals or surgery.

Incidentally, for decades conservative talk show hosts have bemoaned some of those social effects without recognizing their roots. If you can't figure out what causes a problem, you cannot intelligently solve it. I began discussing this problem in the last century, and I've yet to see a political pundit discuss the relevant biology and practical ways to circumvent the effects that contribute to the personal and collective fragmentation of America.

Bereft of science, political commentators substitute heated rhetoric and vent moral outrage, making them feel good and entertaining their audience but helping precisely no one. They repeat this maladaptive complaining about other issues they similarly misdiagnose. Cynically but likely accurately, they have a vested interest in not solving problems, which fuels outrage that draws listeners seeking an outlet.

“It's hard to get a man to understand something if his paycheck depends upon him not understanding it.”
Upton Sinclair

With top pundits and even fringe ones often being multimillionaires, they have a powerful incentive to not solve problems. One of them is racism, which is so mismanaged by the right and the left that I am writing two books to present what they've overlooked: ways to boost Black and Hispanic health, happiness, intelligence, creativity, productivity, and hence success, all backed by solid science.

Bongino added that his appliance repairman loves modern appliances because they break down so often, creating endless work for him. (See the parallels to medicine?) Bongino also commented on the poor engineering so evident in appliances that frequently end up prematurely in landfills. Call it planned obsolescence, crummy engineering, or just plain laziness, modern appliances are manufactured to make repairs too difficult for most folks, who either hire repairmen or discard products after a single part fails. That wastes your money in addition to energy required to produce, distribute, and collect the products deposited in landfills. It also exacerbates pollution from that as well as manufacturing and transporting it.

Both my washer and dryer failed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I refused to spend time in a tiny utility room to help the technician remove the stacked dryer from the washer. I couldn't do that myself: it takes two men or a specialized device I wasn't in the mood to make, so I invented ways to repair those appliances without disassembling them: necessary according to each of the many videos I watched, horrified by how extensively the appliances were disassembled just to access the defective part.

Nuts to that, I thought; necessity is the mother of invention, and this was a necessity. In the end, I modified the washer and dryer so they can be easily fixed without disassembly. If I were an appliance engineer, I could replicate that approach and improve it somewhat so that anyone without technical training could fix them in less time than a typical TV commercial. I also thought of ways appliances and other products could fix themselves at little extra cost.

So why don't we have easy-to-fix appliances? Because appliance manufacturers benefit when products quickly go to their graves, thus boosting sales of their current junk to replace old junk. Most consumers are just helpless pawns in this game, one of many played by big corporations who excel in draining almost every dollar you earn.

I conceived an easy way to incentivize manufacturers to make reliable products that are easy to repair. This applies not only to appliances but countless other products that could be embedded with inexpensive RFID chips read by garbage trucks and junkyards, integrating that with your purchase data to automatically calculate product lifespan: no user input required. Made-in-China junk (or other junk) that prematurely fails would penalize its manufacturers whereas those making good stuff would be rewarded with penalties extracted from junk manufacturers.

In recent decades, as product quality diminished, I discarded a mountain of laser printers, inkjet printers, computers, other electronic devices, microwave ovens, other kitchen gadgets, power tools, vacuum cleaners, fluorescent light fixtures, and a staggering number of LED bulbs and light fixtures — in spite of the hype about their longevity, many fail before an incandescent bulb would burn out, and some LED fixtures are pathetically unreliable as evidenced by the 100% failure rate I experienced with dozens of one particular shop light. I replaced so many ceiling light fixtures that I invented a tool to make that job much easier.

Furnaces, water heaters, cars, you name it — all and more could be made so they are easy to fix. I have a difficult time believing that all of their engineers are unable to conceive ways to make better products, but with worse ones being better for them, you know why today's junk is the way it is.

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

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