More Rants & Raves

Click the headings below to expand the associated diatribe ...
The Numb3r$ Game ... March 24, 2022

Where are all of the agencies who determine our financial breaks getting the numbers from to categorize us?
(Yeah, just finished taxes)

  • did ya hit the determining points for your GST rebate?
  • do you deserve free or assisted rates on XYZ?

SO, whenever a new incentive pops up, there is always a number associated to whether you qualify, In the case of Canada's Goods and Services Tax for example, if your gross household income is less than $50k, you will get a guess-timated percentage of said pittance back, on the assumption that you paid that much out in purchase taxes, on well - let's face it ANYTHING.

See, you're determined to be amongst the "midde class" depending upon an upper and lower wage bracket. These levels appear to be indiscriminate, and can seem very prejudicial. We're grouped by whether we have children, how many, whether both adults work .. all kinds of criteria that seem to have been established in the dark ages.

Where'$ My M0N3Y? ... March 2023
The tax basin seems to disappear into a single purse. Makes it hard to know where the money went - or came from?
  • We keep getting sold on taxes to improve our behaviour.
  • Where does the money go? The problems are not being addressed.

Let me start with my favourite example...

♺ Recycling
I used to make balsa wood airplanes in my teenage years. Due to the cleaning of brushes from the "dope" and paints I used, I purchased Varsol pretty frequently. I went to buy some at the same paint store I'd been to before. It was a LOT more money. Why? Well, they had tacked on a tax for managing the container, and a disposal tax - I guess in case I didn't finish all of the contents?

Fast forward forty years to now. I am utterly frustrated by the recycling programme in Canada. We are constantly confronted with decisions about what we can and cannot recycle, where we take it - or does it just go in the blue box? Is it refundable? I figure my wife has a better handle on this than any person I know, and taken as a whole - she really has no idea!

With the number of dollars dropped into recycling in this country, we should not be able to purchase anything or have any product contained in a non-refundable or recyclable container. Which begs the extremely simple question: where's my money? Where's your money? There's no program for recycling that? How can that be possible? "Blue" truck take stuff to the garbage dump? WTF?

And not to forget the contents of my Varsol. Just exactly where can I drop that off? If you go to most of the recycle centres in small town Canada, it'll end up in a catch-all that looks like the bubbling fester pit you would be shown in a horror movie.

Stupidity ... April 2024

It is quite likely I will at some point dedicate an entire section of my web site to Stupidity.

Far beyond a slight or slur, stupidity is a dangerous enemy of mankind, which has reared its head time and again throughout history. World leaders have referred to it, warning us in numerous guises against the insidious creep of stupidity. It is the easiest weapon of the greedy and evil to use against mankind, as it is well suited to the lazy, corrupt and unthinking.

Stupidity is most often voluntary. It allows the belief of contrary propositions. It facilitates "ease". Until it doesn't. Which raises the topic of belief itself. Belief is a manifestation of stupidity, and there are a great many platitudes and chestnuts referring to the adoption of belief. Belief is quite simply the adoption of an idea without permitting controversy, examination or debate.

Governments, religions, political groups, splinter factions employ belief in place of explanation. This may be hard to hear, and will certainly get many people's backs up... however, to permit belief over logic is to in fact behave stupidly. It's a hard sell. Excerpt from the study of stupidity:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Interned by the Nazi's for fighting against the regime (he was involved in a plot to kill Hitler), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was killed at a concentration camp two weeks before the prison encampment was liberated by the Allies. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young pastor, argued that stupid people are more dangerous than evil ones. Bonhoeffer’s famous text serves any free society as a warning of what can happen when certain people gain too much power.

“One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and prevented by the use of force, against stupidity we are defenceless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here. Reasons fall on deaf ears.”

Facts that contradict a stupid person’s prejudgment simply need not be believed; and when they are irrefutable, they are pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this, the stupid person is self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack.

For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature.

This much is certain, stupidity is in essence not an intellectual defect but a moral one. There are human beings who are remarkably agile intellectually yet stupid, and others who are intellectually dull yet anything but stupid.

The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or rather, they allow this to happen to them.

People who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals in groups. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem.It becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power, be it of a political or religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. Almost as if this is a sociological-psychological law where the power of the one needs the stupidity of the other.The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, such as intellect, suddenly fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up an autonomous position.

The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us from the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and is abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil – incapable of seeing that it is evil.

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Bonhoeffer once said. 

Albert Einstein

I have read a fair amount of Mr. Einstein's works - books, letters and thoughts. I would say that he was very hopeful of man's better inclinations prevailing. He does however perceive the enemy. 

"... the three great powers of stupidity, fear and greed."

Bertrand Russel

"The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, while wiser people are full of doubts."

Russel uses different words, but is in fact referring to stupidity and belief with 'fools and fanatics'.

Carlo Maria Cipolla

In 1976, Professor Cipolla {Economist} published a 60-page essay describing the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as the greatest existential threat to humanity: stupidity. He divides humanity into four main categories: Intelligent, Bandit, Helpless, Stupid. 

First, there is the intelligent person, whose actions benefit both himself and others. 
Then comes the bandit, who gets rich at the expense of others. 
The abused, the helpless person's actions enrich others at his own expense. 
He then presents five laws of stupidity.

Law 1: Everyone always and inevitably underestimates the number of stupid people in circulation. No matter how many idiots you suspect you are surrounded by, you are invariably underestimating the total. This problem is compounded by the biased assumption that some people are intelligent because of superficial factors such as their job, education, or other characteristics that we believe rule out stupidity.

Law 2: The probability that a person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person. Cipolla postulates that stupidity is a variable that remains constant in all populations. Every category you can imagine – gender, ethnicity, nationality, education, income – has a fixed percentage of stupid people. University professors can be stupid. There are US presidents who have been and/or are stupid.

Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or group of people when he or she does not benefit and may even suffer losses. Cipolla calls it the golden law of stupidity. A stupid person, according to the economist, is a person who causes problems for others without any clear benefit for himself. 

Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the destructive power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances, dealing and/or associating with stupid people is always a costly mistake. We underestimate idiots, and we do so at our peril. This brings us to the fifth and final law:

Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person. And its direct inference: a stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit. There is no defence against stupidity. The only way for a society to avoid being crushed by the burden of its idiots is for the non-stupid to work even harder to compensate for the losses of the stupid. 

So, I say ... where in our societal issues is this not true? Stupidity is cultivated strenuously by the wealthy. It clamours at us from our televisions and the multiple media forums available through the internet. False information is a business. It is disseminated carefully in places where it can be taken up and shared. It is used to numb us, to make us accept as the norm that which is unthinkable. But also to stimulate the growth of stupidity, which essentially propagates "on the ground troops" unknowingly fighting to preserve the wasteful greed of the wealthy.

Look at the Climate Crisis for example. There is so much misinformation that climate advocates are actually giving up in many examples. The idiocy surrounding electrification. We spend most of our lives interacting with electric or electrical devices, but spurn the idea of driving such a car? Sure, there are valid arguments and caveats about this. But how many are irrelevant once context is established? We spend fortunes trying to ameliorate concerns that make no sense to the vast majority. We are presented with fields full of windmills to tilt at!

Look at the ludicrous behaviour of the right wing American political party. Their willingness to back an idiot through pyramids of interlocking idiocy is astonishing. And can have only one aim: Power. And not power to correct. Power to the greedy. To the Bandits!

Customer Service ... June 2024

We'll make this more accessible ...

So most of you will have had interesting customer service episodes by now. As corporate profits increase, their attempt to ameliorate the concerns of customers have become increasingly feeble. Soon AI will be the only response we get. An automation telling us how terribly sorry they are that we're having a problem.

A great cartoon shows a dude on hold the phone. The bubble states, "Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line until your call is not longer important to you."

People 'working from home', makes this a much worse issue. They have no immediate contact with a supervisor, and indeed some of the materials they might require to solve tour issue are unavailable to them. 

Accountancy courses actually teach that quality control and customer service can be applied gently, as the number of people who actually return an item is less than ten percent. Meaning, selling untested crap is cheaper than manufacturing a reliable product. 

Additionally, personal experience has taught me the name brands are bought and sold, without notice to the consumer. I have purchased a (previously) top brand - had it fail, and found out it WAS made in China, but the brand has since been repatriated.... HOWEVER, they do not support their product for the period it was made off shore. And make no mistake, the brand name, nor the logo ever changed. 

I've also had representatives get angry at me because they did not understand very plainly expressed issues. This is particularly enjoyable. This has happened with HUGE names like Microsoft, GoDaddy, and - of all places - the Government of Canada. In two cases, after being patient for hours on the phone, I was hung up on when the representative recognised they were not going to solve my problem. You can bet that is to bolster a statistic of some sort!