Tag Archives: consumerism

The Future of Almost Everything – Patrick Dixon

Over $5.3 trillion of currencies are traded every day, yet nations like the Philippines, Peru, Poland or the UK hold less than $80bn in reserves to defend against speculators. Enough to last only a few days.

The book is trying to identify future trends, developments that human society might take. Dixon considers that there are six main future trends, conveniently named: Fast, Urban, Tribal, Universal, Radical and Ethical (FUTURE).

Patrick Dixon has a lot of guessing and the arguments he shows are shallow. There are so many statements that some will certainly turn true.

Guessing the future

Nonetheless, he is intriguing and has a good grasp of what is happening in the world. It makes a good overall read and challenges the reader. However, I did not feel that he bring anything new, all being trends that exist already and are extrapolated into the future.

Patrick Dixon is a professional futurologist, having a company specialized in this niche, with many reputable international clients. He writes often, on various subjects.

The style of reading is very fluid and it follows very neatly the logic of each chapter or trend. It make a good read overall, but not exceptional.

[Feature photo by Kristian Bjornard]

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century – Ronald Bailey

Back in 1972, the computer modelers for The Limits to Growth calculated 42 years ago that known world copper reserves would be entirely depleted in 36 years, lead in 26 years, mercury in 13 years, natural gas in 38 years, petroleum in 38 years, silver in 16 years, tin in 17 years, tungsten in 40 years, and zinc in 23 years.

The book from Ronald Bailey is a skeptical view of doom prophets, reminding readers how many predictions turned out to be false. Bailey gives several examples, such as the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, agriculture or the  Swedish sperm count, among others.

Books predicting future become old quickly, so it is more constructive to look at books analyzing available data. His book is a well research argument for a libertarian view of the world, putting in place the notion that we live the best lives in the history of human kind. However, the book challenges one’s beliefs and it is difficult to read by an environmentalist.

Questions on risk aversion

The author argues that never do anything for the first time also known as the precautionary principle will never allow innovations and the society having this as principle evolve (kind of the Chinese society in the 15-19 centuries).

Bailey’s interestingly notices the concept of pathological science, when researchers become blinded by their own moral beliefs.

On climate change, he notes, quoting Dan Kahan and the Yale cultural cognition project, that the debate is chiefly not about science, but about a clash of strongly held values, between mainly Individualist/Hierarchical and Communitarian/Egalitarian set of beliefs, both having different risk aversion. The more educated each person from this division, the more empirical evidence is found consistent with own beliefs, hence a confirmation bias.

On environment protection in general, Bailey’s notices that rich nations protect nature better, for example forest surface re-growing and air quality.

Between Malthusian doomsters and cornucopian optimists, the book tries to strike a balance and the author is conscious about his own potential biases.

Nonetheless, he correctly highlights that the environment discussion is a clash of ideas rather than a scientific debate, both sides having good, solid arguments. Linking with a previous book I just read, Guns, Germs and Steel, which has a liberal view in the US politics sense, environment protection is important: human societies in the Americas, for example, likely killed all large fauna (over 100 kg) crippling their future development. On the other hand, excessive risk aversion and a view of a perfect past (such as a pristine nature) could hinder and eventually destroy a society with this view.

It is a good book that I would recommend reading in balance with Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, so the reader can make its own opinion.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Above them, in ten successive layers of dormitory, the little boys and girls who were still young enough to need an afternoon sleep were as busy as every one else, though they did not know it, listening unconsciously to hypnopædic lessons in hygiene and sociability, in class-consciousness and the toddler’s love-life. Above these again were the playrooms where, the weather having turned to rain, nine hundred older children were amusing themselves with bricks and clay modelling, hunt-the-zipper, and erotic play.Buzz, buzz! the hive was humming, busily, joyfully. Blithe was the singing of the young girls over their test-tubes, the Predestinators whistled as they worked, and in the Decanting Room what glorious jokes were cracked above the empty bottles! But the Director’s face, as he entered the Fertilizing Room with Henry Foster, was grave, wooden with severity.

I read this book as a recommendation from my boss. You can read for free at this link. I was mesmerized, I read the book in just a couple of long nights.

The book was written in 1932, but it seems so contemporaneous, 80 years later. It is a classic, in the same vein as 1984 by George Orwell.

Would you go in a golden cage? Money, sex, drugs, elitism, but no free will. This is the question that Huxley proposes.

Huxley’s writes about a future dystopia, where genetic engineering, recreational sex, drugs, hypnotic messages and brainwashing create a world were everyone thinks is happy. But this world lacks any deep meaning, no family, religion or art. A system of castes, heavily brainwashed, is ingrained in the texture of society.

The system seems to me very Soviet-like, were science is praised, family and religion is destroyed, but economy can only exists through a system of slavery and elites.

Some can see through the veil, as Bernard, and they are given sanctuary or prison, as you like, in some of the isles. The faults of the society are expressed by the life and dialogue of a men called the Savage, born in a so-called reservation and unwilling to bend to the wrong rules and be brainwashed.

I loved the book because it makes you think, it makes you ask questions. How many people make an opinion by just reading a title of news on Facebook? How many people good in the field, pretend with arrogance knowledge in other fields? How many people go to the original source and skip interpretations? How many people filter the information that comes to them?

In my own field, energy, I see people holding strong views, one way or the other, without knowing too much of how the system works.

It is a book recommended for high school reading in many countries. It makes you think.

99 francs – Frédéric Beigbeder

[…] Marronnier est un peu fini dans la profession mais à une époque c’était un sacré winner: Lions à Cannes, couverture de Stratégies, V Prix au Club des A.D… Il est l’auteur de plusieurs signatures assez connues: «ET VOUS, C’EST QUOI VOTRE TÉLÉPHONE?» pour Bouygues Telecom, «QUITTE A AIMER LE SON, AUTANT AVOIR L’IMAGE» pour MCM, «REGARDEZ-MOI DANS LES YEUX, J’Ai DIT LES YEUX» pour Wonderbra, «UNE PARTIE DE VOUS-MÊME EN MEURT D’ENVIE, L’AUTRE N’A QU’A FERMER SA GUEULE» pour Ford. La plus connue reste quand même «CAFÉ MAMIE. IL Y A SÛREMENT UN MEILLEUR CAFÉ. DOMMAGE QU’IL N’EXISTE PAS». Putain, ça semble facile mais fallait le trouver, plus c’est simple plus c’est compliqué à débusquer.

Le livre est en français, donc j’écrivais le revue dans la langue du livre que j’ai lu.

Le roman de flamboyant auteur Frédéric Beigbeder raconte une histoire de décadence dans la société de consommation actuelle, par la suite d’un épisode de la vie d’un directeur de publicité.

Une roman qui parle de consumérisme et décadence

L’auteur suggère que la publicité pousse les consommateurs à prendre des décisions qu’ils ne veulent pas nécessairement faire. Il se moque des corporations et rit de leur structure, considérée comme hypocrite et perfide. Alors que de nombreux idées socialistes, de gauche, sont clairement dans la veine de roman, la critique ne charge pas l’intrigue.

L’histoire se termine un peu décevant, avec un monde fantastique où les vedettes se cachent. Mais peut-être ca était toute l’idée de roman, je vais vous laisser découvrir.