Surfing Rendueles’ Wave
When I don’t surf Alex’s wave, I surf Rendueles’. Here is a very funny story illustrating why everybody in academia detests us, the post-Soviets:
“One day I was giving a class on Marxist theory and explained the matter of capitalist inefficiency by giving the example of the famous light bulb that has been illuminating a California fire station for over a hundred years. It seems that in the first decades of the twentieth century, the owners of the biggest light-bulb factories got together and agreed to artificially limit the life of their products to one thousand hours, though they could last much longer. This is a good example of how capitalism is unable to realize it full material and social potential because it is driven only by the profit motive. Raul Zelik, a professor of political science from Germany who was sitting in on the class, raised his hand and said, derisively: “Lovely story, but how do you explain the fact that in Germany light bulbs used to last only 500 hours? And that no agreements were needed for that to be the case?”
I often do what Zelik did at conferences and academic discussions, and people seethe because they have no response.