Marginalia

When I was a kid, I used to read MAD Magazine.  I loved the MAD fold-ins, Dave Berg’s “The Lighter Side of…” and of course, Spy vs. Spy.  But one of my favorite things was the stuff that appeared not in, but around the comics.  These “Marginal Thinking” bits were the work of Sergio Aragonés, a true master.

This post is not about Aragonés, but about his opposite.  And it is about margins.

The massive posts I’ve been doing here under the general heading “The Shocking Truth” were fun to write, and it was a blast to experiment with different types of generators.  But the biggest lesson I took away from doing them was that there wasn’t all that much of a difference insofar as the functionality of the generators was concerned.

Which is to say that the differences I did find were, for the most part, marginal.

It’s worth emphasizing that much of life is like this.  We (particularly we in the “first world”) have it so good that we find ourselves fighting it out over differences that are pretty minor.  They matter only at the edge.  For cyclists, this means that a bike frame that weighs grams less than another is significantly more desirable.  Music enthusiasts strive for the lowest possible THD, even when the difference is inaudible.

We pay a lot for small differences.

Aragonés’ marginalia made a huge difference.  In some ways, it was what made MAD what it was.  But the difference between an old bottom bracket dynamo and a hub dynamo or a Velogical unit is pretty damned small for most people.

I guess what I’m trying to say, after all of the reviews are over and  the smoke has cleared, is that it doesn’t make sense to buy “THE BEST ” unless only that will do.  If you can make due with a little less, if you don’t fall into one of the marginal cases?  Save your money, or, better still, give it to a food pantry near where you live.

That will make a far larger difference.

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