Daily Archives: March 9, 2019

Power Failure and Blackout: An Update on the Situation in Venezuela

Naked Capitalism has the article Power Failure and Blackout: An Update on the Situation in Venezuela.

Venezuela shut schools and suspended working hours on Friday after the capital Caracas and other major cities awoke without electricity for a second day due to a problem that struck the South American country’s main hydroelectric plant [, the Guri Dam]… “This is a severe problem. It is not just any blackout,” said Luis Martinez, a 53-year-old walking to work in eastern Caracas.

“A problem that struck.” Note lack of agency.

There are many teachable moments in this article.

Inflation Simply Explained

There is an example of inflation that people see reported on the oligarchs’ news media that most people may not associate with what goes on in a country like Venezuela.

The example I am thinking of is what happens to prices when a natural weather incident disrupts normal life for a brief period of time. In New England we see this happen when a blizzard strikes. When the warnings of a blizzard are broadcast, people rush out to stock up on groceries and on snow fighting equipment. Some grocery stores run out of milk and bread. Hardware stores run out of salt to melt the ice, shovels to clear the snow, and flashlights in case the power goes out.

Some stores take advantage of the scarcity by raising the prices. This is a mini-example of inflation. Let us examine what has happened to allow inflation to start up. The government did not suddenly start printing money and pumping it in just to the locations that were threatened by a storm. These locations suddenly faced a shortage of goods that were needed in the storm. The amount of money stayed the same, but the supply of goods fell short of the demand. Parts of the country that were not threatened by the storm saw no rise in prices.

Now think what happens to a country that is sanctioned, embargoed, and otherwise laid siege to by the USA and its allies. Those countries don’t need to increase the supply of currency one bit to experience inflation. The goods that would have been bought at normal prices are suddenly removed from the economy. The price of the remaining goods increases because the existing money is chasing fewer goods than it used to.

A simple definition of inflation is “too much money chasing too few goods”. There are two factors here, the amount of money, and the amount of goods. A sudden change in either factor will have a serious impact on the relation between the two factors.

Windows Search Service: A Resource Hog

Here is a lesson that I seem to relearn every 5 years or so. Windows Search Service is a resource hog, and needs to be turned off. My Thunderbird email reader was getting to the point of being almost unusable. It was going into periods of non-response for reasons I could not fathom. I could not imagine what it was doing in the periods where it would not respond. The Windows resource monitor did not display any significant usage of any computer resources, yet Thunderbird was too busy to respond to me.

Since I turned off Windows Search on two computers that I believe were both indexing files on my Network Attached Storage, the performance of my computers has taken a giant leap forward.

The reason why I have to keep learning this lesson might be the time lapse between when I buy new computers. By the time I buy a new computer, I forget that I had shut off Windows Search Service on the old computers. It takes a few years of suffering poor performance before I am reminded of the cause.