The razor arms race: A model for when to
So, Schick has come out with the Quattro-a new razor with four blades, which is promising to give me a closer, more comfortable shave. This new razor is intended to compete with the Gillette Mach 3, which features three blades, and was intended to compete with all the more traditional two-bladed razors, which were seen as an improvement upon the single-bladed razor. Catch the theme here?
Maybe it's just me, but when I hear about a new razor with four cutting edges, my instinctive reaction is to go buy one of those old-school straight blades. You know, the kind they use in barbershop scenes in gangster movies right before the boss gets whacked.
Admittedly, this is a completely irrational response, outside the fact that I think it would be really cool to have one of those anyway.
Here are my problems with the Quattro. First of all, come on. Four blades? If two is better than one, and three better than two, and four better than three, than certainly five is better than four. What we are witnessing is a razor arms race, the likes of which haven't been seen since the Kennedy Administration.
What if Kennedy had said, "Yes, there's a missile gap and we plan to take care of that, but we're only going to up the Rooskies by one. No way they'll try to top that." Please. Why didn't Schick up the ante and go for five or six blades with a bio-engineered beard mulching attachment which turned my stubble into ecologically-friendly compost? I'd probably buy that. I wouldn't allow it anywhere near my face, but seriously, that would be cool. I could respect that.
And for full disclosure, I'm against pivoting-head-technology. Sure, it claims to give a closer more comfortable shave by adjusting to the contours of my face. And, yes, the Gillette Sensor Excel (my razor of choice) has a primitive form of pivot head technology, but nothing like these new razors do. See, the Sensor moves up and down, but the Mach 3 and Quattro also move side to side, and their blades move independently of one another.
If there is one benefit to the old single blade disposable technology, other than getting a fresh blade every day, it is that the single blade doesn't move and you have a real sense of where the blade is on your face. See, all this razor movement leaves my hand by my jaw line, but frankly, I have no idea where the blade's going next.
I'm sorry. I had to get that all off my chest. There's actually a point here, I promise. It seems that far too often we get caught up in our ability to create and don't stop to ask why we're creating.
Don't get me wrong-innovation, creativity, and pushing things to the next level have been the hallmark of American history. It's what we do. But sometimes we need to stop and think whether we should be doing something just because we can.
This has been the basis of ethical and moral opposition to many advances in technology, especially in the realm of reproductive biology and genetic research of the second half of the twentieth century. What is particularly worrying about these new forms of technology is that they not only change how we live, as the automobile and Mach 3 did, but they can change who we actually are.
The specter of Frankenstein's monster should never be a reason in and of itself to oppose or prevent technology and research in new and potentially revolutionary work, but it is a good reason to move with moderation. It's rare that we can put the genie back in the bottle, as the proliferation of nuclear technology has proven since the end of WWII.
Progressives don't necessarily bring progress in their wake. For an example, see the French Revolution (see also: Terror, Reign of). Something that promises to be new, bold, and different rarely is, and if it is, it's still not necessarily better. That is the foundation of conservatism.
William F. Buckley, in the inaugural issue of National Review, famously wrote that it was a conservative's job to "stand athwart history, yelling stop!" This does not mean to stop all changes, as Buckley knew full well that history does not and cannot stop. Rather, it means that we should take action only with great prudence and an understanding that things often were the way they were for a reason.