Monday, April 11, 2005
A man angrily discovering that his new iPod has had its volume capped by the European Union, yesterday.
[OK, it's me. But still. I am angry, as you can see. And I think I might have lost a bit of weight.]
The other day I went on the Tube, with my fairly new iPod Mini. Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I realised that I could not hear any music above the din of the rattly old Northern Line train. Was my iPod working properly? Was I finally going dead after years of Walkman abuse, Motorhead concerts, and generalised shouting in pubs?
No. The problem, as a swift bit of Googling told me, is that all European iPods have a 'volume cap', designed so that we don't damage our precious ears. This volume cap, my Googling also told me, was imposed by the British Standards Institute.
So yesterday, in a bit of a huff, I rang up the BSI and ranted at them, demanding the name of the nannying git of a bureaucrat who had decided to fuck with my iPodding without a bye-your-leave. Once the BSI press spokesperson had gotten over my cavalier use of the word 'git', he told me that the Standard actually came from CENELEC, the Comité Européen de Normalisation Electrotechnique. In Brussels.
This seemed to good to be true. So I rang up CENELEC and was informed, by a polite but bemused French PR woman, that yes, CENELEC had imposed this standard by a 'process of consensus'.
My dander up, I demanded the woman tell me the name of the person who first suggested this asinine bit of interfering bureauwank - because I wanted, obviously, to shout at this person in person.
The PR woman said she couldn't tell me. This didn't make sense: I thought I must have misheard. So I asked again. Again she replied 'she couldn't tell me whose idea it was', because 'that wasn't the European way'. In other words: poor humble members of the public like me aren't allowed to know who comes up with all these EU laws and regulations that impact on our daily lives.
At this point I denounced the CENELEC and all other European Institutions for being the inventions of the fucking devil, and repellently undemocratic to boot, and then I wished the good woman an 'au revoir'.
So there you have it. My life (and your life, if you have a European iPod) is very very slightly worse because of some silly, interfering and ridiculous European Standard, and we're not allowed to know whose fault this Standard is, because 'that's the European way'.
I think I might vote No in the European Constitution Referendum.
Posted by sean at 2:05 pm