Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Problem with Capitalism

I have had this nagging irritation that capitalism is fundamentally flawed for some time, but haven't had a good way to articulate it till now. It seems to me today that capitalism makes the assumption that it can provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people, by in turn assuming that people are rational and will work in their own self-interest. The aggregate of that rational self-interest will be seen in demand curves and these curves drive capitalism.

The problem with this is that it confuses needs with desires. Like a kid, we assume that what we desire is what we need. And that the demand represented in a demand curve will answer needs humans have. Sadly, more often than not that curve represents not needs but wants, and not necessarily even very valid wants.

It's the job of a marketer to generate demand, and he or she does so by generating a want, and then helping us persuade ourselves that this is a need. Consequently, all my childhood, I needed the latest pair of Nike running shoes … despite the fact it would never answer any real need I had, and would be constructed in a sweat shop. This didn't provide the greatest good for the great number, merely fulfilling a whim for some, while injuring others. Today I need to update my phone every year because, well, I need too, despite the cost in natural resources and pollution that doing so wrecks. Again, not the greatest good for the greatest number.

So in the end capitalism is irrational and against our ultimate self-interest. It serves only to feed money from those with the greatest need to those with the least. Not good, since it seems to be the new religion of most of the world.

Probably not new thinking, but new to me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Biggest Tsunami ever!

Without underestimating the suffering of those in Japan, Christchurch, Haiti and other earthquake ravaged places at present, we are still all lucky it was not worse. As the media have drummed into us, this was a mega quake, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, and it generated a devastating tsunami with waves up to 10 metres high (incredible video here). In 1953 in Alaska, an earthquake measured at 8.3 on the Richter scale generated a tsunami. The wave that hit reached a height of 524 metres. I'll repeat that. 524 metres of water crashing down! Putting that in perspective, that's higher than the Empire State building!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

BMW Hates Me!

My new car arrived recently, after much waiting and delay. However, it seems that there is a conspiracy to get me. In my old car (a now very dilapidated Honda Legend) I had one accident (a young driver decided that that whole right of way thing on round-abouts is for sissys, and decided to drive through me rather than wait their turn). That's it in over 10 years of driving that car. Since I got my new car 6 months ago, I have been hit twice. Both times by ladies working in the mental health field, both times by drivers of the BMW X series of vehicles.

The first time, a driver of a BMW X3 convinced herself that the bumping, grinding sensation as she backed from her position at stop lights (!) into a parallel park beside my vehicle was unlikely to be related to my car being between her and the car park, and that me honking and waving to get her to stop was nothing more than the raving of deranged tailgater (seriously, in heavy traffic, with cars backed up behind us, she decided it was a good time to leave the intersection backwards, not forwards).

The second time, a driver of a BMW X5 forgot a couple of important details of the road. Firstly, red light means stop, not go. Secondly, that cars stopped in front of me means stop as well, irrespective of what any pesky light may be saying.

Anyway, long and short of it is that I have had BMW X vehicles attempting to wipe off both my front and rear bumpers in the less than 4 months I have been driving my new car. But I can see the pattern now, and I'm ready for it. Not sure whether the next one will be an X7 or and X9 (depends on which pattern of progression is happening here), but I expect and BMW X something to T-bone me from the side.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Where Will the Next Big One Strike?

Just quickly, great Infographic out at Good crystallising a lot of earthquake related data.

Going Places

A long time ago (back in early 2007), I wrote brief post about some of the places I've been blessed to visit. Been to a few more now, and have added Spain, Russia, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Japan and China to my list. Pretty happy with that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fix for Outlook 2010 Signature Problem

Found a solution to a very frustrating Microsoft Outlook 2010 problem here. On Windows 7, running Office 2010, the signature pane becomes totally inaccessible. The button to allow you edit your signature is there, but it does nothing. Finally found a fix for this today (desperation gave my Google wings). It requires editing the contents of two keys paths in the Registry. The two keys are:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{0006F03A-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}\LocalServer32
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{0006F03A-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}\LocalServer32

Within these key paths there are two keys that appear:

  • (Default)
  • LocalServer32

On my machine the (Default) key had a value of C:\PROGRA~2\MICROS~2\Office14\OUTLOOK.EXE and the LocalServer32 key had a value of 1^V8!!!!!!!!PZKSkOUTLOOKFiles>tF{~$3Q]c@qPX6MxaTO5 (or something like that). All four of these values need to be changed to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\Outlook.exe and Outlook rebooted. And then everything should just work, like magic! And so far, no nasty side effects!