Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New and Improved

New and improved.  Every time you go to a grocery store, it’s somewhere.  But is it new? Or is it improved?  They can’t really go together, can they?  New implies never before seen.  But improved means there must have been a version before that.  The phrase “new and improved” creates a paradox.  And if it’s improved, what was wrong with the old version?  Anyway, what’s new isn’t always improved.  There are so many examples of this, but the most obvious to me is a washcloth.  When you have an old washcloth, it’s soft from being used so many times.  But if it’s new, and only been used perhaps once, then it’s rough and scratchy.  You probably won’t want to use it until it’s soft, unless it’s the only one you have.  This creates a second paradox.  It involves getting what you want in short-term versus getting what you want in the long-term.  But I digress.  “What’s new isn’t always improved” is illustrated in the TV show Ben 10, in the episode titled “Ben Four Good Buddy."  When highway robbers steal the Rustbucket, they add tons of gizmos to do their dirty work.  But on the inside, the RV still has quirks that help Ben defeat the robbers from inside - literally!  I won't spoil it, but it involves the fridge and the ice maker.
How easily can you pull up a sapling? What about an old tree?  With trees, when someone refers to one as old, he/she is saying that it's very big and strong.  How does that fit with the view of "new and improved"?
What else have you seen that is better old than new?  Or something new that hasn't improved?
So if you see “New and Improved!” somewhere, question:  Which one is really it?

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