Archive for the ‘capitalism’ Category

Because I have been in business for myself during much of my adult life, people occasionally call me an entrepreneur. They mean it for a compliment, so I try to hide the fact that I consider the term an insult.

I can see why they might apply the term to me. I’m rarely at my best in a 9 to 5 job, and I maintain a sole proprietorship called Outlaw Communications that I occasionally remember to declare my GST on. Once or twice, I’ve even created jobs by sub-contracting.

Still, there is a fundamental difference between an entrepreneur and me. An entrepreneur is someone who wants to accumulate money or power, a whole-hearted participant in the game of capitalism set on building their own empire – if only so they can take early retirement. But I’m none of those things.

By contrast, my attitude is that of a bourgeois intellectual. Although I see no nobility in poverty, and don’t object to having a good year for income, I am not especially concerned with accumulating money. My ambition in those directions extends only so far as being comfortable, and having a good chance to be as comfortable as I am now in the future.

As for power over people, while I mildly prefer it to them having power over me, who needs the responsibility? I am far more interested, too, in interesting work now than in early retirement – especially since, if I worked hard enough to take early retirement, I probably would forget how to enjoy it anyway.

Besides, having survived on the outer edge of academia for years, I am full of anti-capitalist sentiment. Accumulating privilege seems a ridiculously trivial way to spend my time when there are so many books, films, songs, and pieces of art to appreciate – to say nothing of exercise, conversation, and food. Why make the effort, especially when it is so soon forgotten? Andrew Carnegie and John Paul Getty may have been known in their times, but their names are only half-familiar at best today.

Consequently, I have a hard time understanding in my heart of hearts why a grown adult would be pleased to be called an entrepreneur, or imagine that I would be. Taking on that role seems to involve an obsession with the banal, and a deliberate decision to ignore most of what makes life worth living while getting nothing worthwhile in return.

Frankly, the idea of being an entrepreneur bores me. As for being called one, why would I pleased that someone considered me so shallow?

This attitude, no doubt, explains why I will never be rich. But, please, don’t strain my manners by calling me an entrepreneur. I aspire to better things than that.

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My digital camera is a Kodak DX7630. It’s a few years old, but capable of giving me the high enough resolutions for all my needs. However, the camera uses lithium-ion batteries of a design that you can’t buy in most stores. When the battery recharger lost a small but essential part, I had to hunt for a replacement. I found one, but, in doing so, discovered a product that was built for the manufacturer and not the user.

To start with, the old recharger was maybe eight by five by two centimeters. For no apparent reason, the new one is about fifty percent larger in all dimensions – enough so that, unlike the old one, it doesn’t fit in most pockets.

More importantly, the new recharger is designed to work with a number of different battery sizes and plugs. I can guess the reason: Kodak doesn’t want to bother making a variety of different rechargers, especially for older models. Presumably, too, it would prefer that people bought its more expensive docking station, rather than a recharger. But the result is near-chaos.

On paper, the new recharger might sound like a good idea. For instance, it comes with plug extensions for just about any type of electrical outlet in the world. But the extensions barely sit in position on the power source without falling off. The same is true of the battery holder and the recharger, which for some reason are not made of one piece, but two snap-together ones that keep separating. And, as if that isn’t enough, because the battery holder is designed to accommodate several different sizes, you have to position a battery exactly right before you can recharge.

And,needless to say, the new recharger only works if you position everything exactly right. If you don’t, you have several items to jiggle and adjust before any recharging is possible.

Nor does familiarity make the process easier. The slightest movement of any part of the unit can cause recharging to cease. You need a flat surface where nothing will come near the recharger for several hours whenever you are using it.

Oh, and don’t step too heavily within a couple of meters of the recharger. That could cause something to work loose, too.

About the only good thing you can say about this product is that you can, in fact, eventually recharge a battery. But, as convenient as the recharger is for Kodak, it’s an exercise in prolonged frustration for users every time that they use it.

Personally, if something in me didn’t shy from the idea of replacing a perfectly good piece of hardware, I’d take the new charger back and buy a replacement camera; I wouldn’t have that much more to spend, anyway. But, whether I buy a new camera or endure the new battery recharger, I still seem the victim of a perversity of capitalism, no matter how little I want to be.

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