Locklin on science

Office chairs are a scam

Posted in Design by Scott Locklin on April 23, 2021

A younger self employed pal asked me if he should dump $2k on a Herman Miller Aeron recently. The TLDR is “no.” It’s like spending $2k on a pair of sneakers blessed by a devil worshipping blood-drinking pothead. Worse; unlike the $2k devil worshipping blood sneakers (which I suppose will eventually be mandatory for corporate dress codes), it’s become something that everyone unquestionably accepts.

Let’s do a little history here; there was a first office chair, and it existed for a reason. Originally it was because Charles Darwin had a giant room filled with biological specimens and he needed to flit from object to object to invent evolution. So he stuck some wheels on a comfy Victorian chair. I’ve used caster-chairs in laboratories for their intended purpose. They’re great and they exist for a reason. Thank you based Charles Darwin for inventing laboratory caster chair.

Darwin chair; respek

Later, such chairs were used as an integral part in early information technologies systems. Aka office workers with filing cabinets; yards and yards of filing cabinets, performing essentially the same functions done by a roughly equivalent volume of IT professionals and computer databases. The little casters on the bottom of the chair; that’s for flitting from cabinet to cabinet without getting up. They’re sort of like the actuator arms of the R/W head of magnetic spinney disk drives. The innovation in this era of office chair is they have a swivel mechanism, making it even easier to maneuver around, bring files back to your desk, and do clerical work with a typewriter and Marchant calculator. This also made total sense and it was both healthy and civilized having such aids to efficiency in offices.

At some point they put another joint in the things so self-important executives (who were actually glorified clerks: otherwise they’d have sat in stuffed armchairs) could sit in such a chair with their feet on the desk; this was never needed, but it was popular anyway. I inherited such a 50s era chair from a friend and kind of wish I had kept it going by bringing the metal parts to the machine shop, as it looked cool at least.

By the 70s, such chairs were pretty universal and made out of plastic. By then, information technology was an important factor, so swiveling and rolling past the filing cabinet was vastly less important. However physical decay and the workman’s comp lawsuit had become important factors in the workplace. People sued their employers for having a bad back. In reality, your bad back is some combination of genetic factors and poor maintenance. But whatever: this is when ergonomics became a factor in office chair design.

Now, the reality is, there is absolutely no such thing as “ergonomics.” Nobody who isn’t a 60s era fighter plane or space capsule designer, has any idea how to make a chair that is “ergonomic” -nobody really has any idea what “ergonomic” means in terms of office chairs. It’s just a sort of virtue word with vaguely medical connotations. Cargo cult science at its best, designed to ward off bad juju like lawsuits. This is where it started to go bad really quickly. Herman Miller who invented the office cubicle: the second most dystopian form of office, started producing “ergonomic” chairs festooned with gas-lift levers to alter the height, and lots of sliding doodads to move arm rests and knee flex points and so on.  The idea was based on factory/industrial designs. Cube farms are a sort of production line for clerical work. I’m pretty sure casters were completely irrelevant at this point, but since cube farms were all covered in filthy plastic carpet, and non-casters would ruin the shitty rugs, the casters stayed. Rotations same thing. And I guess you could still put your feet up in your smelly little carpeted cube.

the ergon; this atrocity is considered “iconic”

Finally we come to the Herman Miller Aeron chair; the throne of the bugman open office. Add even more slidey “ergonomic” pieces. Because we’re doing “ergonomics” don’t you know. You can raise and lower the arms, cant the thing at all kinds of odd angles, roll around; it is endlessly ergonomic (whatever that means). Truly the Aeron chair is like the restaurant with 100 specialties on the menu; infinite choices for propping up your ridiculous clerical meatsack. Since by the 90s not  only were office workers completely gelatinous and in need of 10,000 adjustments to hold them in front of their computers against the ravages of gravity, they were also enormously fat sweathogs. The plastic carpeted cushions of Herman Miller’s Ergon gave way to a sort of polyester hammock-net so they wouldn’t develop grotesque sweat and fart stains on their office chairs and kakhis and cotton shirts. Something that was somehow missing when everyone wore wool and weren’t disgusting gelatinous ham planets. The chair itself, as a chair is, like most aspects of modernity, almost unspeakably ugly: it looks like some kind of arachnid or brine shrimp.

I came to the realization that office chairs are a scam when I was writing my Ph.D. thesis. Up until that point in life, I had spent most of my time as a free range physicist, bounding up and down vacuum chamber platforms, dashing to the machine shop, rolling the helium leak checker over and crawling over piles of conflat flanges; even practicing martial arts with the Filipino janitor who studied with Remy Presas. Suddenly though, I was strapped to a chair answering emails, doing Fortran, gnuplot and LaTeX all day; then goofing off by making fun of people on the internet. I actually developed mild carpal tunnel and a sore lower back. Since I worked for the government they sent a safety and ergonomics expert over who upgraded my chair from an Ergon looking thing to something more like an Aeron and gave me training and a new “ergonomic” keyboard. It very obviously didn’t help one whit. Moving to the LBNL physics library and sitting on hard wood and metal chairs from 50s Army offices helped some. Going back to the gym and lifting heavy objects cured it for all time. Your body isn’t a tub of shit when you exercise and so you can happily sit on a log or boulder and be just fine.

Best open office chair I had was one of those exercise balls; it kept my posture good and was way more comfy than any other kind of plastic chair could be. Plus it flexed on my coworkers who would get sore in the midsection if they attempted it. For my home-office; I mostly sit in tub chairs. It’s been right for 250+ years; peak chair.

The more “advanced” a chair gets, the more degenerate it is. If you train your body to decant itself into some arbitrary chair shape (with 1001 “ergonomic” positions) like a living jello mold or octopus hiding in a mayonnaise jar,  you will eventually inevitably experience back problems. This happens because despite your bugman lifestyle, you actually are a vertebrate. Look at how the spinal column is made; it’s not made to be held up by stupid chairs; all those little pointy deely boppers on your spine are muscle attachments. Those muscles are meant to never relax: they’re structural, just as much as the ligament, cartilage and bone in your spinal column. That’s why people with back problems do better sleeping on the floor rather than a waterbed.

The other thing that makes these things a scam; in addition to being made of materials which are both fragile and uncleanable (unlike, say, steel, wood, leather or even hard plastic) it is made up of numerous fragile parts which wear out and break. People own leather tub chairs for decades; assuming there is no plastic foam in them, for centuries even.

Literally all of this could be discerned if people paid attention or had the rudiments of common sense. Instead of using humble powers of observation, office drones have been brainwashed into uncritically accepting the claims of the vendors of these ridiculous contrivances. Instead of demanding a comfy tub chair and their own damn office, modern invertebrates accept the swindles of their bugman overlords, and feel important sitting in horrific open offices on their intricate, smelly and insubstantial $2000 plastic thrones. Anyway when you get back to the office after the covidiocy abates, tell them to sell the chair and give you an office with a regular chair in it; even a metal folding chair or a stool in your own office is an improvement. They won’t, because the chairs cost way less than urban commercial real estate, but that’s the future you should be aiming for anyway. At least as good as the one portrayed in Brazil.

61 Responses

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  1. BS said, on April 23, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    What do you think of the standing desk fad? As a tall person I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I’m just not meant to sit upright staring at a screen for 8 hours a day. By the time 5 rolls around my back feels like I’ve been in a coal mine all day

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 23, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      I think it’s a fad brought on by people’s fear of death (aka people who sit die more often than smokers -no research showing same people will live longer if they do clerical work standing up -maybe standing is even worse). But if it works for you, keep it up!

      Tallbros have it harder than us manlets. You only get 33 vertebrae no matter how tall you are, and the torque is larger on the joints the taller you are.

      • William O. B'Livion said, on April 25, 2021 at 12:27 am

        I had 34. Then I had two (c6 and 7) fused. Now I have 33.

    • George W. said, on April 23, 2021 at 4:21 pm

      I’m pushing 6′ 3″, standing desks are definitely a good way to mix it up. Treadmill desks are something else to consider if you can afford it/use desks enough. My job is a good mix between field and office work so it doesn’t get to me as much.

  2. maggette said, on April 23, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Yep. Better to invest in a desk set up that makes it possible to work standing.
    I do some tasks standing: reading/writing emails and documentation or administrative work. Meetings too.

    Everything hard to my brain, like coding, looking at data or reading complicated stuff I either have to sit down and/or walk. I try to get out of my chair every 1 or 2 hours and walk around (or in home office even get some fresh air t).

    Also : a short workout in the morning and a real workout in the late afternoon or early evening has kept me pain free for a decade now.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 23, 2021 at 4:06 pm

      Short workout in the morning is fairly new to me, but it really loosens you up and lowers the creakiness, to say nothing of working better than coffee for waking up. Walking definitely best thing for thinking, especially if you’ve been sitting long and are in a rut.

  3. George W. said, on April 23, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    These dysfunctional office chairs make you appreciate blue collar jobs, at least. I’ve been aiming to try a treadmill desk for sanity. I can walk comfortably for 2 hours, sit comfortably for 30 minutes, and stand for 20. Moderate/Intense exercise doubles the latter two. Eye strain normally kicks in before anything else.

    I’m utterly and completely terrified of U.S. obesity trends, more than covidiots were of the pandemic. Is anyone else not freaking out?–we’re approaching 50% obese, Oh the humanity!!! Treadmill desks could help a little bit at least, if they aren’t distracting.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 23, 2021 at 4:10 pm

      When I leave the US and come back, it’s the first thing I notice. Second thing is loud ghetto people.

      There’s all kinds of health stuff that nobody talks about but which is extremely much more alarming than wuhan lung butter. There sure is a lot of mental illness, and use of antidepressants or antipsychotics doesn’t remove your right to vote. It certainly should! People also seem to have a lot of what appear to be imaginary diseases; doublejointedness is now a “disability” -morgellons, etc. Also allergies are pretty bonkers. Seems like important problems we should be worried about, along with people altering local spacetime continuum with their enormous mass. Nah, wear a rag on your face, it’ll be fine.

      • asciilifeform said, on April 23, 2021 at 7:39 pm

        > use of antidepressants or antipsychotics doesn’t remove your right to vote…

        Next, disqualify vodka drinkers? (Not that votes are especially interesting in reality… For whom do I vote for, e.g. a 10-hour work week?)

        And is it impossible that it is the people who cannot abide the “civilized world” circus without dope, who are the sane ones?

        > People also seem to have a lot of what appear to be imaginary diseases…

        Hellholes resembling labour camps invariably create malingerers. Betcha if you thought you had a shot at getting off the work treadmill immediately by convincingly faking a disease, would take it. (If not — there are plenty who will.)

        • Scott Locklin said, on April 23, 2021 at 11:07 pm

          Malingerers need to enjoy life as much as this guy in which case I fully support:

          Vodka is traditional; even in 1984. Turning your noggin into swiss cheese so you can belieb in shitlibbery despite the evidence of your lying eyes, naaaah. Soma hasn’t been integrated into society any more than buying a pack of Philip Morris heroin, and people who use it are not to be trusted or considered respectable citizens.

    • gbell12 said, on April 26, 2021 at 6:08 am

      Also freaking out. I am shocked every time I go into public by how many morbidly obese people there are. What the heck is going on?

      • Frank said, on April 26, 2021 at 6:11 am

        Bad parenting. Too much of this “leave the kids to themselves they can determine their own future” attitude. No they can’t. They grow up addicted to sugar water and bereft of tradition and values.

      • George W. said, on April 27, 2021 at 4:41 pm

        Nobody cares, nobody is doing anything about it, and discussion is stigmatized. I’m still confused how americans enjoy all the shit they eat. It’s all too fucking salty, greasy, and sugary.

        Where are the anorexia acceptance people?

        • asciilifeform said, on April 27, 2021 at 8:53 pm

          > I’m still confused how americans enjoy all the shit they eat. It’s all too fucking salty, greasy, and sugary

          The Pygmies similarly enjoy their edible caterpillars.

          > Nobody cares, nobody is doing anything about it, and discussion is stigmatized.

          What do you suppose could — even theoretically — be done about it? And, importantly, at whose expense?

          The mostly-vanished smallholder farmers, the small grocers they supplied, the “trad” families (with wives who knew how, wanted to, and had time to — cook meals) are not coming back en masse. The Americans “decided” to live like factory-farm animals, and are being fed correspondingly. “Eat recycled food — it’s good for the environment, and OK for you!”

      • Cakin008 said, on June 20, 2022 at 10:05 pm

        Car dependency. People have (or had. One great thing from the pandemic is it eliminated the commute for many people) to drive to and from work everyday. I know for a lot of people, their commute was 1-2 hours one way meaning the spent 2-4 hours driving everyday! Really cuts into the amount of time you have for healthy exercise. Also, it’s practically impossible in many US places to walk anywhere. I have a grocery store that is less than a mile away from my apartment… but there are no sidewalks so if I tried to walk there I would have to walk on the side of a highway with cars speeding by at 50 MPH. So I and most people within my building choose to drive there even for the smallest things (like just getting a milk carton) because we don’t feel like risking our lives by walking in an urban landscape designed for cars rather than humans. Car dependency in the US has eliminated most Americans abilities to walk anywhere… especially if you are poor and have to live in places like I do where there are little to no sidewalks or bike lanes. Essentially it eliminates the gym of life. If we look at places that are less car dependent, they also have some of the lowest rates of obesity.

        This video is a good primer on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPUlgSRn6e0

        In fact that whole channel is. Good urban design can have a HUGE impact on the overall health of a city/country’s citizens.

  4. LindyMan said, on April 23, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    based and lindy-pilled

  5. Mr Dadjeans said, on April 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    Scott, Scott, you clearly have never had referred pain. Sciatica doesn’t get resolved going to the gym. You can screw it up worse there, or make it better, but not cure it. In any case, it takes time. Sometimes the back heals itself if you don’t do stupid things to it. My sciatica was not caused by a crummy chair, it was due to an accident (that included 2 broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a separated shoulder.)
    There are a lot of BS ergo things out there (like the scam keyboard.) But I will never give up my Aeron. I went from incredible pain in almost any chair to not feeling pain from the chair at all.
    That doesn’t mean your average person should get it. And if you are really tall, it might not be your answer even if you have sciatica.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 23, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      I have, in fact, seen you sitting on very non ergonomic chairs. I think sticking a pillow in the hollow of your lower back is basically the same thing, but as you said, I don’t have back pain. Neither do most others who sit on Aerons.

    • phf said, on April 26, 2021 at 11:28 am

      something to consider is that sciatica issues related to a horrible accident is clearly a non-representative outlier. likewise they have crotches for people who break their legs, but somehow those are not (yet) absolute must have for people going for a walk. the bulk of office sciatica issues are result of poor sitting habits, poor exercise routine and poor sleep.

  6. Igor Bukanov said, on April 23, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    I switch between a standing desk and a sofa or a low armchair. If I sit for long time on a normal chair even hard one, then after a while a shadow of back pain appears. That back pain is from mistakes of the youth when I trained karate and tried too hard with the hope to overcome body limitations.

    I heard a number of times from chiropractors and physiotherapists that the reason the hard chairs are better is because one cannot sit without moving in those for a long time. Small shifts in the position happens much more often and that helps the back. That may also explain the experience of sitting on the training ball. But that does not explain why sitting in a low sofa works for me better than on slightly higher hard wooden chair. Everybody is different I guess.

    • sigterm said, on April 23, 2021 at 8:14 pm

      The Slav Squat joins the fray.

  7. asciilifeform said, on April 23, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    IMHO pret-a-porter sucks just as much in furniture as for clothing.

    If I’m condemned to spend 12-14h/d in a chair (yes, I suspect most chair people — if given the choice — would earn exactly same dough in the sunlight and fresh air) then it had better be adjustable, rather than Procrustean.

    And incidentally “Aeron” (mine’s from early 2000s, and still on all-original parts) only costs 4 figures if the buyer is a corporate moron and pays the “newness tax.” Otherwise it’s a couple of hundy — roughly same as the “air piston rockets up your arse within 5y” Chinesium monstrosities.

  8. Rickey said, on April 23, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    I have an Aeron chair at work and the only difference I noticed from a conventional chair is that the arm rests are held in place only with friction and pressure. I am adjusting them every couple of days since they keep dropping. A pin system or at least serrated edges would be a large improvement. Unless you are sitting in a Medieval torture chair, 90% of your problems can be avoided with proper poster and alignment with your desk and keyboard. My wise father made me take a typing class when I was in junior high since he correctly predicted computers were going to be ubiquitous and I learned how to type on a manual Royal typewriter on a metal chair. The crochety teacher would walk around with a ruler and check our posture. I have been typing for almost 45 years and never had any issues with carpal tunnel or joint problems. One of the best exercises I discovered for any back issues are good old fashioned sit ups. It is probably the combination of strengthening your abdominal muscles and stretching your spine.

  9. Joe said, on April 24, 2021 at 12:04 am

    Excellent post.

    Herman Miller just bought Knoll this past week.

  10. Vladimir Alvarez said, on April 24, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Ok the writer really needs to get back on medication and therapy. This article is full of fallacies it makes no sense to point them all out.

    When it comes to office chairs, it is very personal because the need to fit your body type. Also, I assure you that many American, Canadian, and German manufacturers do a lot of research behind the ergonomics of their office chairs and NO a good office chair is not a scam. They are meant to give you the right support when you work 8+ hours.

    Do not sit on a cheap chair, arm chair, sofa, or a chair that you feel you need to put a pillow on your back. That is the best way to mess up your back and I’ve seen on some cases permanent damage.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 24, 2021 at 9:14 am

      Citations needed on all assertions. Otherwise I’ll just assume you’re either someone who has been fleeced or a representative of Herman Miller attempting to impugn my chair-poasting.

    • Walt said, on April 26, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      Ergo is a scam. Researchers can’t decide what proper sitting posture is. The important thing is to be able to sit in different positions and get up and move.

      My $100 Ikea chair works better than the $500 office chair I had at my last job.

  11. Uncle Milton said, on April 24, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Do you have any opinion on this „active chair“ that a surgeon designed that supposedly helps by keeping your spine moving due to its instability?

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 24, 2021 at 9:17 am

      I think I will sell some ancient egyptian designed chair and stick a label on it “physicist designed chair.”

      • Uncle Milton said, on April 24, 2021 at 12:19 pm

        I was just wondering, because Mr. Osler shares your disdain for the herman miller type “ergonomic” office chairs but claims that such an instable seating system automatically puts you to be in your natural posture like you have experienced it with a exercise ball but without the downsides of the ball. Like many I am currently in the process of optimizing my home office setup and wondering what things beyond exercise are useful. As usual, sticking to the “science” is very easy…

        • Digital 1822 said, on April 26, 2021 at 12:10 am

          There are no downsides to getting better a better core fitness.

  12. chiral3 said, on April 24, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Worth noting the male-female specific dichotomy. Off the top of my head men carry belly weight over weak abdominal muscles and do stupid risky shit. On the last point, I have a cervical injury that happened at high speed at 16,000 feet, a lumbar injury at sea level (with 500 lbs), and assorted thoracic shit from broken ribs doing high speed things in the horizontal plane. Having been on trading floors the chair comes in second maybe to the tourbillon patek philippe as a signal of power and virility. Conversely, the less Neanderthal women maintain a healthy body weight, toned abs (and in general the posterior chain), and instead of a watch or chair as a mating call, a nice arched lower back, which doubles as not only a signal to the competing alpha bonobos on the floor, but a way of not rolling the pelvis and trashing their spines.

    I did not know that Herman Miller invented the cubicle! The “action office”.

  13. Devin said, on April 24, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    So basically this guy sat on a generic ergonomic chair, and didn’t like it. Never addressed the lumbar support and gravity of the chair, only referred to the armrest adjustment which is mainly for different keyboard and mouse arrangements. Kept reffering to 1000 different adjustments even though the aeron has just 3 outside of the basic height adjustment… It’s obvious he doesn’t at all understands support systems in any furniture.

    The tldr of this is, this man thinks you should just exercise more, which is true, but wrongly asserts his elitest opinion on tools to alleviate posture problems as if they don’t work, when they do. He has no clue how to use them, or what they do, as is apparent by his reference only to the armrest adjustment, while not knowing of any other type; even though there’s only two.

    Yes getting in shape is always the best answer, but jesus… Saying people who spend up to possibly 16 hours a day in a chair shouldn’t use something with lumbar support or to support any of their body is pretty ridiculous… The point of these support adjustments is pretty simple; they allow your muscles to work less and still keep you aligned. Similarly, this is relevant to when you’re sleeping; some muscles will stop working efficiently and the only thing keeping your body aligned is the bed. Of course, bad posture is primarily from lack of exercise, yes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tools that can still alleviate posture issues.

    This entire article reads like some salty, elitest bench presser dunking on the entire country for not “getting gains” while not at all understanding the mechanics of support systems and alignment, getting instead caught up in buzz words like ergonomics probably because he’s been ripped off by other non-related marketing tools because he’s just a bad consumer. Either way, pretty ridiculous read.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 24, 2021 at 10:44 pm

      >his elitest opinion on tools to alleviate posture problems as if they don’t work, when they do.

      Citations needed, jellyfish. Presumably you have some evidence of this that doesn’t come out of Herman Miller’s marketing department, or the placebo effect.

    • maggette said, on April 25, 2021 at 3:49 pm

      Scott is combative. But he is often also right.

      The human body is complex dynamical system. I think that the whole discipline of orthopedy was (or is) largely misguided by an extremely oversimplified static-mechanical model. A lot of things are considered “sound medical” advice that IMHO drastically lack good research.

      Look at the results the researchers in the field of bio-mechanics have made in the last decade. Your body is build to move. If you want a solid researcher on back issues have a look at Dr. Stuart McGill. He does great research…both in the laboratory as well as quite solid empirical studies…college athletes, firefighter and LE as well as average people.

      In his book “Low Back Disorders : Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation” the chapter on sitting has basically only one advice: constantly change posture (feets on desk, lay low in your chair….) and get up often….and yes: an unstable, hard and uncomfortable chair will naturally force you change your posture often.

      There is NO good sitting posture. Everything that forces you to switch position often and move is a good thing.

      • Scott Locklin said, on April 26, 2021 at 10:47 am

        It’s just common sense; don’t need science for this.

        I like combative people even if he is trying to be an invertebrate here. Western Civilization needs more of this.

        “A certain choleric vein gives zest and force to all acts….The best
        work of the world is done in the tension between anger and control.”
        -G. Stanley Hall

  14. William O. B'Livion said, on April 25, 2021 at 12:40 am

    I will say this for some adjustability, the needs of a 5’3″ woman, and a 5’9″ male are significantly different. A desk and chair that I can sit in for hours leaves the little woman (lost ~40 pounds in the last 2 years) squirming and kicking cause her feet don’t hit the ground.

    Ideally both the chair and the desk would adjust to fit those in the 2nd deviation. BTW, this includes sliding the back forward.

  15. Derrick H Bonsell said, on April 25, 2021 at 3:35 am

    Retail workers stand up their entire shifts. If they can do it, office drones can too.

    • asciilifeform said, on April 28, 2021 at 12:10 am

      Out of curiosity, are you a retail worker? And do you stand up for your entire shift? If not, would you like to?

  16. T.G. said, on April 25, 2021 at 4:11 am

    My office used to have Herman Miller Aerons. It was a selling point but I didn’t really care because they just looked like a cheap office chair but they are actually a lot of money. The chair caused a lot of upper back strain and pain for me.
    The chairs pretty much encourage you to slouch forward. None of the settings are good for looking at a screen at eye level. When you slouch forward, your upper back does extra work to hold up your arms and shoulders. I had stinging pain there until we were allowed to get standing desks and I adjusted mine so my screen was right where I wanted it.
    I also have a traditional office chair with a high back and neck support. It makes it easy to keep my eyesight fixed ahead and therefore my spine is not shaped like a question mark. Standing desks are trendy right now but I appreciate being able to control my posture more.
    Vidya gaming chairs are actually pretty decent too. It’s funny how gaming chairs have developed in a different direction than office work chairs despite both being essentially just staring at a screen and similar hand movements.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 25, 2021 at 9:50 am

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Vidya chairs were actually kinda ergonomic in some astronaut space-capsule way, as gamer autism is going to beat academic wanking (Aeron obviously designed by some Harvardesque cretin) every time. Paradox game players better than most history departments at, like, actual history.

  17. Frank said, on April 25, 2021 at 5:27 am

    I have a sit stand desk so when i feel like pacing about my room i have it at stand height, but i have my drumkit in the same room so at height i just use my Yamaha drum throne stool thing. When i am downloading updates i bang off a few bars on the drums. Still, my back would be fucked if I didnt have my garden to maintain and a granite dry stone wall to build.

  18. Walt said, on April 27, 2021 at 3:46 am

    OT: Scott, you need to read “Boyd” by Robert Coram. Pages 100-170 talk about how he wrote “Aerial Combat Study” and then came up with an equation to describe his concept called the Energy Maneuverability Theory. It’s a heroic story of experimentalism in science. Boyd figured out why the new MiGs were better than our aircraft in most cases and better than the F-111 in all cases before the so-called defense engineers did and he used he E-M theory backed by hours of flight-tested to prove it.

    After you read it, we need to have another fight about the F-35. F-18 pilots say it’s a dog. I was reading back through your post 3 years ago and I think Boyd would hate the F-35 since it’s basically another heavy design-by-committee like the F-111. The comments that CAS aircraft are no longer necessary are laughable.

    • Scott Locklin said, on April 27, 2021 at 1:57 pm

      Read it; sent some of my F35 comments (from Takimag days) to his colleague Pierre Sprey who agrees with me, but seems to prefer to sell high end audiophile equipment to trying to save the US military again. Can’t say I blame him.

      • chiral3 said, on April 27, 2021 at 2:30 pm

        Small effing world. With all due respect, if that dude had anything to do with designing aircraft I think I’ll walk or ride a bike. Maybe it’s just money, but if your name is behind it… maple amp stands and otehr pieces of finished wood from lumber harvested in my back yard doesn’t imply all the pseudo science that comes with it. Guys like Schroeder making cartridge cantilever out of cactus needles do to anisotropic distribution of yaddayadda with internal dampening of blahblah… ok, I get that. Cool. But the mapleshade stuff is as audiophool as it gets.

        • Scott Locklin said, on April 27, 2021 at 2:53 pm

          A-10 warthog was all him and Ernst Rudel (I think Sprey was the one who got Rudel; Rudel knows more about blowing up Russian tanks from an aircraft than anyone who ever lived). He knows his stuff. He also sold restored cigarette lighters for a time; I bought one.

          I have no idea about the audioph00l stuff, but I’ve noticed jewish men of a certain age develop tendencies in this direction. Some of it is kind of cool even if it is nonsense. I assume it’s like a hand made shotgun or english-made shoes or whatever.

          • asciilifeform said, on April 28, 2021 at 12:14 am

            > Rudel

            I’ve always suspected that the Americans came by their military misfortunes (i.e. long-time habit of astonishingly expensively “winning” wars) at least partly by studying from escaped Germans, who believed that they lost their war from insufficient investment in “wunderwaffen”. Or, worse yet, by happenstance.

            • Altitude Zero said, on April 28, 2021 at 2:45 pm

              There’s probably something to this. When your military even adopts helmets that look like the Wehrmacht’s, there’s obviously something going on. And it’s always important to remember that, while there is certainly much to learn from the German military experience of 1939-1945, and 1914-1918, they ultimately lost, and it wasn’t just because of being outnumbered, or Hitlerian mistakes, no matter what Guderian and Von Manstein said.

            • ian said, on April 29, 2021 at 4:58 pm


        • Walt said, on April 27, 2021 at 2:53 pm

          You keep hanging onto Pierre Sprey’s comments when Boyd proved that our entire defense establishment full of its “scientists” and “engineers” was churning out crap and still is. The pilots think the F-35 sucks. I talked to a Hornet pilot two weeks ago about this. It can’t beat aircraft from the 1970s in dog fights. Pierre Sprey is absolutely correct about our love-affair with bombing and bombers. The rebuttals of his criticisms of the F-35 have some truths but are half defense-industry woo. Take this one, for example:

          Mr. Sprey’s views are questionable considering that the F-15 remains more deadly than ever even after forty years of continuous service in the USAF, not to mention that its even more complicated and heavy brother, the F-15E Strike Eagle, is the most all-around useful machine that the USAF has in its inventory. Additionally, the F-15 Strike Eagle derivatives are still thought of as one of the top-of-the-line fighter aircraft available on the world market today.

          Ok, useful in what way? It probably is useful for wars against other nation-states, but we haven’t fought one in 20 years and that one was a sh1thole country. Did it help us beat the Taliban? A relative who went to Afghanistan said we can’t even make the road from Bagram airport to the Green Zone safe and have to fly people over it by helicopter. Does it outperform the F-16 in aerial combat? Does it simply sell wall to Arab princes?

          Even the F-14 Tomcat ended up being as good of an attack aircraft as it was an interceptor even though it was never originally designed to do the precision bombing mission.

          Pilots called the F-14 the “Tom-Turkey.” It may have “worked” in the sense that it was useful for launching off carriers and pounding sh1thole countries with no air force.

          Sure, having key purpose-built aircraft like the A-10 for the uniquely challenging job of precision close air support, or stealthy aircraft such as the F-117 for deep strike missions makes great sense, but for the vast majority of missions an air force will face a multi-role fighter gets the job done just fine.

          What have these “Deep Strike” missions accomplished in terms of military objectives?

          Most of the criticisms from guys like Lind and Sprey tend to center on the fact that we use the wrong tools for the wrong or irrelevant jobs entirely.

          • Altitude Zero said, on April 27, 2021 at 4:05 pm

            FWIW, the late Chuck Yeager didn’t think much of Boyd’s work – never heard him express himself on Sprey. Of course, Yeager would never have claimed to be any kind of intellectual, defense or otherwise, but he was probably one of America’s greatest pilots, so his opinion does carry some weight.

            • Walt said, on April 27, 2021 at 7:34 pm

              Chuck Yeager is known for being fast, not for inventing stuff. Wasn’t it Tom Wolfe who noted that test pilots were mostly driven by envy and elite status competition? If so, that would explain Yeager not thinking much of something he didn’t do but was groundbreaking and noteworthy, on par with or surpassing his own achievements.

              • Altitude Zero said, on April 27, 2021 at 7:47 pm

                Of course, Boyd was also a monumental egoist, and Yeager was not lacking in that area, so you may be right. Yeager also said that the F-22 and the F-35 were wastes of money, so he may actually have agreed with Sprey, if not Boyd.

          • Hugh "Rod of God" Johnson said, on May 12, 2021 at 4:40 am

            The F-35 isn’t an airplane; the F-35 is a money-laundering scheme.

            Just like modern art.

            Just like the ‘Rona.

            All praise be to Mammon, who art in these thy Substantial Telescopic Heavens.

  19. GavinBurns said, on April 27, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Here’s my chair. It’s a toolbox with one of those bead covers for ass ventilation. I sit on it with my heels on the floor and my back up straight. When I started using it my back used to ache but it adapted in a few weeks and it’s never felt better.

    • gbell12 said, on April 27, 2021 at 10:32 pm

      That’s awesome. What made you think that was a good idea (study, just what was available, experimentation) and how many hours a day do you sit on it?

      • GavinBurns said, on April 28, 2021 at 10:35 pm

        It was supposed to be just a temporary thing while I was fixing my old chair but I liked it so much I’m still using it a year later. It’s nice not having a backrest, it feels freer and less locked in. I usually sit in it all evening for at least 4 hours, at the weekend I might sit in it for 12 hours. Feels good.

  20. Wilbur Hassenfus said, on April 27, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    Height adjustment matters. One physical therapist, one piano teacher, and two “ergonomics” people all told me to keep my forearms level when I type or play piano. If I don’t, I get pain in my forearms. When I start doing it their way again, the pain subsides.

    Maybe it’s all in my head. But it isn’t.

    The mesh on my cheapo fake Aeron is comfortable, and our cats love it.

    • gbell12 said, on April 27, 2021 at 10:39 pm

      My armless chair lets me put my keyboard on my lap so that my forearms are level. Do you find you need something fancier?

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