Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More interested in feeling good than doing good.

How do you contribute to charity? Is it really the optimal choice to make?
... the way we choose to dole out cash betrays our true motives. Someone with ₤50 to give away and a world full of worthy causes should choose the worthiest and write the cheque. We don’t. Instead, we give ₤2 to the street collector for Save the Children, pledge ₤15 to Comic Relief, another ₤15 to Aids research, and so on. But ₤15 is not going to find a cure for Aids. Either it is the best cause and deserves the entire ₤50, or it is not and some other cause does. The scattergun approach simply proves that we’re more interested in feeling good than doing good.

None of this is to say that these contributions are worthless nor economically insignificant. Just don’t get too starry-eyed about the motives behind them.

Made in Japan

Wars allowed for the rapid adoption of interchangeable parts (guns for Napolean), electrification (WW1 factories) and containerization (Vietnam military supplies), collectively creating the wealth of the Western World.
... during the Vietnam war ... as early as 1965 the military build-up was being hampered by what the journalist Marc Levinson calls “the greatest logistical mess in the history of the US armed forces”. In The Box, Levinson’s new book about the shipping container, he argues that container shipping provided the answer. Once the military was sold on the idea, there were two swift consequences: a dramatic expansion of container shipping to US forces in Europe, and fleets of empty ships sailing back from Vietnam, offering cheap rates to the rapidly expanding Japanese manufacturers. The rest is history.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Too busy to...

Excerpts from an article on why people no longer do the simple things in life -- cook, tend the garden, or even walk the dog:
Personal value systems ... can guide a person's decisions as much as monetary measures can. A simple stir-fry dinner ... comes in one of two ways: ready-made or made from scratch. Though the ready-made meal might cost more, someone who earns $30 an hour might not mind coughing up an extra $5 (about ten minutes' worth of wages) to save ten minutes of preparation time in the kitchen. That person might value convenience more than culinary prowess.
Everything is just another chore to be finished ASAP. No one has time to stop, stand and stare.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How to start a war?

A quote from Hermann Goering, Hitler’s Reichsmarshall:
“Why, of course, the ‘people’ don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship…. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
Three Interesting methods to start a war (scroll down to Feb 13, 2007):
(1) The FDR way of manipulation (Japan)
(2) The LBJ way of forgery (Vietnam)
(3) The GWB way of invasion (Iraq)