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Something old, something new


Okay, it's true, I'm a capitalist at heart. How can I tell? 'Cause in the wake of the election, I went out and bought a bunch of stuff. It seems to have helped cheer me up, too.

I bought a bunch of clothing: a couple pairs of pants, a pair of gloves, a couple of dress shirts, a bunch of T-shirts, a couple of denim non-dress button-down shirts. People keep complimenting me on my cobalt blue button-down shirt, so I got some other shirts in that and similar colors. The lighter-blue dress shirts looked good, but looked more like business shirts than dress shirts, and as I never have occasion to dress up for work, I decided to return those. Likewise the bright blue sweater, which looks fine but I would never wear it, given that I also have a cashmere sweater that I much prefer.

Got a Google jacket from the Google Store; unfortunately, even though it's a Medium, it's a little bigger than the Medium that a co-worker let me try on, which fit me perfectly and looked good on me. This one isn't bad, but not quite as nice. Also got a huge Google beach towel. (Though technically, I didn't buy those things; new Googlers get a few items from the store free.)

Speaking of towels, bought a couple of large bath towels at Bloomingdale's; not quite as plush as the Christy Renaissance towels I got there a few years back, but still pretty plush, and in rich colors ("grape" and "blueberry").

As mentioned last Monday, I bought Delicious Library, the OS X book-cataloging software, and in moments of free time throughout the week have been happily scanning barcodes and typing in ISBNs. I've learned a lot about ISBNs in the process, and have discovered that I own a lot of mass-market paperbacks published by Del Rey and/or Ballantine (ISBN publisher code 345), mostly published in the '70s and '80s. I now have about 450 books in the database, which is probably about half my books.

Unfortunately, it's mostly the easy half. I'm surprised at how many books I own that were published before the ISBN was invented in the '60s (or before it became widespread in the '70s). Some of those have SBNs, the American precursor to ISBN, which can often but not always be easily converted to ISBNs. Some of them have Library of Congress Catalog card numbers, which don't seem to be easily convertible to anything else. And some have no numbers at all. For books that aren't in Amazon's database at all, I'll just have to type in the info by hand at some point. I haven't yet decided what to do about books that I own that are only in Amazon's database in a more recent edition.

As I mentioned in a comment on that previous entry, Amazon turns out to be remarkably inaccurate in various obvious ways. Lots of typos and mistakes and abbreviations in book titles and author names. I'm submitting a feature request to Delicious Monster for an "upload my corrected info to Amazon" command, much like iTunes's capability to upload corrections to the CDDB; Amazon's corrections process is tedious and annoying.

Kam picked me up a copy of Britannica 2005 on DVD; haven't had a chance to install that yet. She says the Mac interface is slightly better than in the previous version, but still not as good as it was a couple versions ago; it's still basically a Windows app ported to Mac. Disappointing.

Yesterday I did my weekly backup, then upgraded Eudora, iTunes, and my operating system. But all of those were free upgrades, so I guess they don't count as purchased either. Still, point being there's been a lot of New Stuff in my life lately—and some of it, like Library, has led to rediscovery of some old stuff.

I've been considering buying a couple of other applications, but I'll save those for another entry.


Okay, it's true, I'm a capitalist at heart. How can I tell? 'Cause in the wake of the election, I went out and bought a bunch of stuff.

Not sure this makes you a capitalist, so much as a consumer.

It might reflect a belief that economic freedom (being able to buy (or make, or swap, or otherwise get and keep) things you want) is important to human happiness.

Not that there's anything wrong with your definition of economic freedom, just to point out that there are other ways of looking at it:

Some might prefer to define economic freedom as living lightly, or living off the grid, or being a net producer rather than a net consumer.

Some might find economic freedom to exist only when there are sufficient options available along whichever dimensions they find important, paying attention to a supplier's envrionmental or employment practices, or local vs. remote ownership of a business, or local vs. remote production or manufacturing, or profit practices. Without a diversity of options, that range of economic choices is reduced or functionally eliminated.

That said, I suspect that consolation shopping or retail therapy does work because of a sense of economic freedom in the way that you define it. But rather than reflecting a belief that such freedom is important to human happiness, it's more of an attempt to assert control in one arena to compensate for a loss or lack of control in another arena. It's not necessarily destructive among the upper-middle class, but it's worth noting that it can be very destructive among the poor, and that retail therapy works for the upper-middle class because of the same societal pressures and media messages which affect the poor.

Of course, being an active consumer is also now an important part of the war on terror.

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