I don't know when the default height for seating was switched to "knee". Trying to find chairs or couches that are set at a sensible level – by definition, one from which a middle-aged person can rise without having to strategise the move in order to accommodate ageing joints – is all but impossible.
I'm no conspiracy theorist, but the only reasonable explanation is that this is the result of some unholy alliance between furniture manufacturers and orthopaedic specialists, the plan hashed out during a summit meeting at a secret location in the Swiss alps.
But in our house, we are not taking this sitting down, and thanks to AliExpress we don't have to. It was here that my wife found a set of wooden legs that have been used to raise our seating to a height that makes it suitable for occupation by humans.
It is with mixed feelings that I resort to using this online trading post as, while it is a fine example of the opportunities the internet offers, it is also a harbinger of environmental and economic catastrophe.
AliExpress is a Chinese-based site on which retailers can expose their knicknacks to a global base of gullible consumers. I'm aware that merely talking about it will bring it to some people's attention for the first time and likely lead to increased traffic.
We've certainly done our bit. Other items of varying degrees of usefulness that have made their way from international locations to our RD3 address include: a Bamboo Multi-device Cords Charging Station Holder Stand; a Handmade Rattan Tea Strainer; A Universal Stroller Door Trolley Pram – for clipping your pushchair to your supermarket trolley; a Creative Chinese Simulation Food Mini Pendant Fun Key Chain; Self-adhesive Window Sealant 5 Metres Strip; and two 4 Cell Diamond Shape 3d Ice Cube moulds. We haven't yet shelled out for the "2018 New ON SALE Unisex Octopus Winter Warm Knitted Wool Face Mask Hat Squid Cap Cthulhu Tentacles Beanie Hat" or the "SHUNZAOR Medical Skin Suture Surgical Kit Pad for Practice Training Use".
Everything is cheap, in many cases, apparently, because you are buying directly from the underpaying sweatshops that supply the big-name international brands. See an item you like in a fancy magazine ad? Photograph it and image search it on AliExpress and there's a good chance you will find it for a fraction of the price. And many of the items are also well under the $60 threshold to avoid GST here.
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Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to the competition represented by AliExpress and some have already been driven to the wall by the unforgiving economics of the enterprise.
There's no denying the items on offer are a testament to human ingenuity and creativity. But I prefer to get my evidence of our ability to create transcendent, transformative works of art in a concert hall or gallery.
Meanwhile, the trade continues to ramp up carbon emissions and do its bit for climate change with free delivery of its ice cube moulds and fun key chains, unaccompanied, I suspect, by any compensatory tree planting.
And while the site drives a hard bargain with its pricing, it is extremely generous when it comes to packaging. Every item comes swathed in several layers of unrecyclable protection.
The philosophy and success of AliExpress highlights a basic human paradox: our inability to act in our own best interests. That at the same time as technology enables us to identify and work out solutions to problems such as environmental devastation, it increases them exponentially while we carry on shopping our way to disaster.