2-11-12 Hodgepodge

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You Can't Prepare for All Contingencies

There is, apparently, a new reality series out on what it aptly calls "doomsday preppers":

Each episode will feature a few individuals from the prepping subculture, and the effectiveness of their preparations will be assessed by experts. In the series premiere, viewers meet a retired couple who have 50,000 pounds of food stored in their doomsday-proof home built of steel shipping containers, an urban survivalist in Los Angeles prepping for a severe earthquake and a young, outgoing Texan ready to bug out when an oil crisis creates havoc.

"It's not a hobby," prepper Gloria Haswell tells National Geographic, "it's a lifestyle." Haswell and her husband spend 50 hours a week preparing for a shift in the North and South poles, which could cause severe climate change. [link omitted]
In addition to this being a particularly puzzling and amusing form of people adopting Pascal's Wager as a way of life, it is highly impractical to spend most of one's spare time preparing for doomsday. Just for starters, I wonder how such people, with their bunkers and stockpiles, imagine how long they can hide from and fend off the enormous hoards of people who have not prepared similarly -- or with whom they will trade once their supplies inevitably run out. And then, considering people preparing for particular disasters, it is amusing to consider them being blindsided by some other disaster, say, a meteor strike or the eruption of a supervolcano. (Not that I waste time worrying about things that, but if something like that happens, I won't have wasted my life building a freaking bunker...)

And would life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland really be worth living, anyway? To confine myself to that which I can influence: Given the choice between spending part of my free time working on the assumption that mankind will destroy itself -- or working to persuade mankind not to, I find the latter far more productive, enjoyable, and likely to really succeed. This is because a truly human life is far more than just bare physical survival. This consummate introvert does not in any way underestimate the value of the opportunities to trade both physical goods and spiritual values (like friendship) with other human beings.

Weekend Reading

"In almost all cases, cheap stocks are cheap for a reason." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "Penny Stocks Aren't Worth a Dime" at SmartMoney

"[I]n personal relationships, respect and love should go hand-in-hand." -- Michael Hurd, in "Respect: The Key to Romance" at DrHurd.com

My Two Cents

I found Hurd's comment that "Like beach erosion, the loss of respect happens slowly," very thought-provoking. I thought I disagreed with it at first, recalling one occasion in particular of which I have said, "I lost lots of respect for [that person] that day." But thinking back on that with the aid of Hurd's examples, I see that a slower process of revising one's estimate of another person -- a slow dawning of awareness that things don't add up the way one thought they did -- may well be at play.

Not a "Dropbox-Killer"

As a very big fan of Dropbox and someone who detests vendor lock-in, I am relieved by the sound reasoning of a commentator who makes the case that the roll-out of Google Drive will not pose an existential threat to the cloud data storage service:
Dropbox said "no" to all that. It wants to be the next Apple or Google, and its valuation seems optimistic about that possibility. Apple's cloud is totally integrated with its devices, using hardware as the platform. Google's cloud is integrated with its services, using the Web as a platform. Dropbox is a platform.

Dropbox lets different clients on different systems read and write to it. Dropbox doesn't have a Google Docs because anyone can build a word processor on top of it. We can build a thousand word processors on top of it, and if they can all read the same file format, they can all work together. Dropbox's platform ubiquity is what it's all about, and that's why Google (and Apple) can't copy it.
Amusingly, it is for the very reasons I like Dropbox -- and don't want Apple's or Google's version of the cloud -- that I may have nothing to worry about.

-- CAV

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