Thursday, June 23, 2016

Day 2383

I wrote a letter to my Luddite sister today. There's something oddly satisfying about writing a letter on paper, putting a stamp on the envelope, and taking it to the post office. I used to regularly correspond with dozens of people by mail, but this recalcitrant sister is the only one left. I miss the days when writing a good letter was still a skill that mattered. There is something tactile about putting a message on paper that just isn't there with e-mail. Sometimes I wrote letters in longhand and other times I used my faithful IBM Selectric typewriter. The fact that you often waited weeks for a reply added to the allure. The immediacy of e-mail, digital photography, and Google searches leaves me cold. I put more thought into things when I edited audio tape with a razor blade, developed film in a darkroom, and wrote letters without the help of spellcheck. Sadly, those days are gone forever.

I really think that the slower pace of an analog world was better for everyone. Now, we measure progress by how big and fast we can make something. The inevitable result of this type of thinking is globalization. In a global economy, successful companies get bigger and bigger, gobbling up all their smaller competitors. A few people become enormously rich, and very gradually there are fewer and fewer choices for the rest of us. Instead of hundreds of small airlines and auto manufacturers, there are just a handful of giant global companies, pumping out standardized products and services for the entire world. I would love to see a reversal of this trend. Even though the odds are against it, I would like to see the UK leave the European Union. I would like to see the Euro disappear and see the return of the Deutsche Mark and the French Franc. I wouldn't even mind seeing the United States split into several smaller countries. Small is good. Small problems are self limiting and can't spread to consume the entire world. The world was more interesting when small self-sufficient countries developed their own unique style and culture. Sure there were still lots of wars and conflicts when city states like Venice and Florence flourished at the end of the Middle Ages, but these states were too small to do much permanent damage to the earth. The whole idea of the Internet is based on the idea of thousands of independent nodes that make it impossible to take down the entire system. We like the redundancy that the Internet provides, but can't seem to grasp that the rest of the world should operate the same way. Globalization and instant gratification have made it too easy to destroy everything. I think these things whenever I write a letter. I might have similar thoughts if I were driving around in a Packard or a Studebaker, but I can't do that anymore.

I had my reasons to be disdainful of e-mail today. One of my clients kept saying that they never received anything from me even after I sent them what they requested three different times. The message wasn't even that important, but it ended up wasting a huge amount of time. I was pretty sure that the problem was on their end, but I ended up having to extensively test my own e-mail account just to make sure that I wasn't the source of the problem. Electronic problems are tricky this way. I should have just sent them a letter, but I know they never would have had the patience to wait for it. Patience has become just as much of a lost art as writing letters.

I've been watching the Brexit referendum returns on TV as I write this and it looks like I may get my wish. It's still too early to call, but there are a lot more votes to leave the EU than most people anticipated. The downside to all this is that my stocks will probably take a big tumble tomorrow morning. Oh, well. If it wasn't this, it would probably be something else. If the trend continues, people who shorted stocks will make money, but like me, most traders will wake up very surprised. I still think dissolving the EU and a return to sovereignty is a good thing in the long run, but I never would have predicted that it could actually happen.

Boo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day