The Guardian, a UK newspaper that's attracting more and more American readers to its website, recently ran a feature that asked " Are our household appliances getting too complicated?" It talked about "function inflation," the domestic-appliance industry's equivalent of the military's "mission creep," whereby something that starts off with a clear objective (boiling water, say, or invading Afghanistan) ends up way more complicated than was ever intended.
So, apparently, you can today buy a kettle that allows you to select the heat of the water required for different beverages. Or a vacuum cleaner that The Guardian describes as:
...this £150 [$227] monument to excessive disposable income [which] includes a "crevice tool", "dusting brush", "turbo tool", "stretch hose" and "flexi crevice tool". You know, for cleaning your flexi-crevices. Which, obviously, aren't a thing.
It was when The Guardian got onto washers that this writer saw the light. A couple of years ago, he was persuaded by a particularly glib store clerk to buy a seriously expensive appliance, largely because it came with an extraordinary steam function. By the time the machine was delivered, he was pretty hazy about precisely what that steam cycle was supposed to do, and the manual provided almost no guidance. Nearly 24 months later, the steam button is yet to be pressed.