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Showing posts from March, 2005

OK, so I don't agree with it

but that does not make it any less funny. Apparently last week in the Weekly Standard an article characterised Canadians as:

"a docile, Zamboni-driving people who subsist on seal casserole and Molson. Their hobbies include wearing flannel, obsessing over American hegemony, exporting deadly mad cow disease and even deadlier Gordon Lightfoot and Nickelback albums." The title of the article was The Great White Waste of Time.

This is in the category of "cheese eating surrender monkeys" or Conan O'Brien's - "so you are French Canadian - you are boring and obnoxious!"

"Commodities"

A small irritant as of late has been the undifferentiated talk of “commodities”. The very idea of lumping into the same group oil, steel and corn is non-sensical. One of them is a non-renewable resource with high degree of scarcity, the second is a partially (scrap metal) non-renewable resource with very low degree of scarcity while the third is a renewable resource of no scarcity whatsoever. What is the point of calling them all the same and even more of trying to see “trends” in “commodities” I wonder.Demand and supply for oil are in a very tight balance and flexibility on the supply side is limited – the order of magnitude of additional supply that can be brought to market is significantly less than 5%. Not so with steel where the issue really is not one of availability of iron ore but rather the processing capacity. Huge amount of mining and steel mill capacity has been shut down over the past 10 years and much of it is being re-started now all over the globe. There is a very sign…

The Russia 100

Having recently looked at the list of Russia's 100 richest people I was overwhelmed by anger. Anger over the monumental fraud that has been perpetrated on the people of Russia.

As I look at that list and compare it to the Forbes 400 list, none of the people on the Russian list can claim they got there as a result of decades of hard work. None of them can claim past record of excellence in entrepreneurial activity or business in general. All that they ever excelled in was at playing the game of influence at a unique time in Russian history. They have very simply just taken advantage of the situation and while I cannot blame them individually for doing so, it is simply not right and there is nothing admirable about it.

If you look at the top 10 of the Forbes list, you have people who have truly invented things that nobody has seen before or built enterprises unique in their excellence or people who simply did something very well for a very long time (Warren Buffet). There are in some…

Harvard and Innate Gender Differences

A letter to the editor at WSJ makes a brilliant point (which I wish I made first) about the recent Harvard study that shows that aspirin affects women differently than men.

He says we should either a) attack the politics of the scientists who published the study, or b) apologize to Larry Summers for the attacks on him for "having the temerity to suggest that there may be differences between men and women".

If men and women react differently to aspirin isn't it just possible that there are other differences?

"It seems increasingly difficult to be both polittically correct and scientifically correct at the same time."

In Defense of Elitism

Is the title of a book that has been sitting on my shelf for years and which I have yet to read.

It perfectly describes the sentiment that arises when one faces the multitude of ways in which Canada as a society appears to wants to snuff out excellence.

From the "everybody is a winner" attitude toward sports in school, to the charge of "elitism" against Universities that dare to suggest that pursuit of excellence is OK, to the health system that puts egalitarianism as its highest objective.

In debates over health care the quality of services delivered, the economics of the system take a back seat to the value of egalitarianism. God forbid that those who can pay more can get more. That would not be Canadian. If it works for cars, clothes or food, why not to deliver other services? Why is health so different than shelter or food?

The drive towards universal mediocrity is showing remarkable signs of success. It is in fact working and pervasive blandness is spreading.

Missile idiocy continues

In today's Wall Street Journal in a letter to the Editor, a Canadian living in Boston says how Canada does not need a missile defense system as "a result of not having anyone attack the country for hundreds of years, itself a result of Canada not engaging in any offensive wars".

Oh, really? And exactly who would have attacked Canada? The Brazilians? Or to Congolese perhaps? And if they did, they would not at all consider the possibility of being spanked by the US for messing around in its back yard?

Further on he says "you should ask yourself why no one wants to kill Canadians" repeating the just-under-the-surface argument of apologists for 9/11 terrorists - you brought it on yourselves. This type of attitude is pervasive in Canada and only the truly idiotic go out and voice it publicly while the majority simply thinks it.

Another idiot explains how many Canadians are "very apprehensive about the buildup of weapons of mass destruction". Huh? A purely def…

Impossible to love?

Microsoft is a strange company. Nobody loves it.

It's customers use the product and their emotional attitude towards the company is in the range from being disappointed with its many failings to not having any emotional involvement at all. I wonder if MSFT ever gets letters from customers praising their experience.

It's peers either loathe or fear them or both. It is hard to find anyone who shows much love for MSFT although one would think that as an undisputed industry leader and a "winner" people would give it at least some grudging respect.

Nobody writes to Exxon either to tell them how they love their gas either (or at least I think they don't) but at least industry peers surely give credit to them for being the leader and for their excellence.