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[P]
Consuming ourselves to death

By tarpy in Culture
Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:42:21 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

My first mistake was to go shopping a week before Christmas. "I should really go to Jewel," I said to myself, "I only need trash bags." However, I wanted to know how much the extended version DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was. I had myself firmly convinced that I needed the additional thirty minutes of footage for my night to be complete. So I found myself driving to my local Target one short week before Christmas. If I was nearly as perceptive as I sometimes credit myself as being, the sight of the groaningly full parking lot should have been my first clue that this was going to be a very hectic exercise.


(Note: yeah, yeah, yeah, so this is US-centric...:)

For someone who is a fundamentally shy and private person (as I am), the store presented a riotous, overwhelming scene. In a way, coming into the store from the outer cold and darkness was a little like the opening of the second act in the current production of La Boheme on Broadway. Quiet, dark preparation explodes into an overpowering vision of sight and sound...and in my case some rather unpleasant smells as well.

All I truly needed was some large trash bags...I was also considering purchasing a new pair of gloves, as I had recently lost my current pair. But the main reason for coming to Target this night over the local grocer was that I was trying to convince myself to procure a copy of the LOTR special edition.

Making my way through the crowd, I started to notice a great deal of bare shelving. Not the "we-don't-have-any-stock" type of bare shelves, rather the "plague-of-locusts-o'er-the-land" type, where the stock had obviously been there, ravenously gone through, and the drippings left for those who wanted to wade through them. It wasn't just the DVD section (although I never did find the one I was looking for), but was throughout the store, in all sections.

The bank of registers was a scene of unbridled consumption. With most of the registers open on a Wednesday night at 9:30pm, there were lines back into the aisle for each register. Shoppers literally had hundreds of dollars of merchandise piled high in their carts. Of the five transactions before me, the lowest dollar amount was $196. I almost felt bad that my pair of gloves, jumbo box of trash bags, and packet of Swedish fish _only_ cost about $25.

As I was leaving the store, this whole experience had left me with an odd feeling; that I was somehow detached from the part of American culture that deals with shopping in some fundamental way...that somehow I just didn't get "it", whatever "it" was. And yet, I'm probably one of the most consumptive (uh, no, not _that_ sense of the word), dare I say, materialistic people that I know. I like my stuff. I like having stuff. I tend to think that you can't have enough of stuff...especially electronics and computer stuff.

It seems to me today that a lot of our notion about who we are as a society, who we are as a people is tied up in our shopping and consumption habits and more importantly in our accumulation of material goods.

Let us look for a minute at the very early post 9/11 world. Car ads told us that buy a new car, truck or SUV was a way for us to take a tangible stand again the terrorists, and for us to `get back' at them somehow for daring to challenge our way of life...as if our way of life was solely defined by buying goods. President Bush even went so far, at a pep rally held at Chicago's O'Hare to exhort Americans to get back on planes, to travel places, spend money, and to live our lives as normally as we could. While this is good advice for trying to help spur a lagging economy and revitalize the hard-hit travel, and especially aerospace sectors, I remember asking myself, "is this the best way for us to channel our energy?"

As I look back at what I did in the immediate aftermath of September 11, I feel good about my actions: I gave blood, donated money to the Red Cross, and even went to church to pray for peace. But somehow I don't think that by buying anything I was going to be giving Osama the bird.

Today, a mere fifteen months later, we're still in some challenging economic times, and yet, we're still exhorted to buy more, spend more, and keep America moving (which was, if you'll recall, Chevrolet's rather disingenuous tag line for their post 9/11 ad campaigns). But where are we really? Personal savings is at an all-time low, consumer dept has skyrocketed (and I'm no saint in that area myself), we're more overweight than ever (honestly, can any but a truly affluent society support our ever fatter asses? And again, I'm no saint here either), and we're told the solution to our ills is to "buy more?!?!!?"

Taking Jennifer Lopez as an example, we see the duality of our consumptive society. In her latest (well, as of this writing) single "Jenny from the Block" our heroine sings:

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go, I know where I came from

In one way, this song is an ode to the American Dream; poor girl from the Bronx becomes an international superstar and wealthy beyond dreams of avarice. And yet, think about it: the song seems to be an admission that the acquisition of goods and the consumption of resource is a end, of and by itself, and an end that needs to be morally justified as good. "I may have all this stuff, but I'm still who I was...I'm still keeping it real". J.Lo. seems to be saying that her wealth (and the power that comes with it) hasn't changed who she fundamentally is. As I said to girlfriend; if you have to sing such a song, you've already lost the battle you're trying to win.

Finally, we come to the greatest example of our consumptive culture, the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). They're by and large the hottest seller on the U.S. car market, and will probably be so for quite some times. Ranging from a reasonable RAV-4 or CR-V to the almost unholy Excursion, we have created an entire class of car that seems to care for how much it needs to consume, or where it gets it from...rather it just has a gaping maw in the form of a gas tank. Augments about their safety and convenience aside, which I consider to be specious anyway, we do like our cars to be behemoth monsters that consume and consume and consume. From the sheer amount of material that is needed to make them, to the amount of petroleum products needed for their care and feeding.

While the United States makes up around five percent of the world's population, we consume a whopping 25% of the world's energy resources (figures from the Pew Charitable Trust). No amount of argument can conceive me that this is a healthy or sustainable trend. Rather these figures seem as if they could have come from Enron's accounting statements.

As a libertarian, what I'm thinking is almost heresy. And yet, when I think of our consumptive society, I, like Jefferson, tremble when I remember that God or whoever is just. It seems to me that we are living a lie; a lie that consumption will make us whole, will fill some empty hole in our soul. I fear we're trading a sense of purpose and destiny that we once has as the world's "shining city on a hill" for the false lucre of excessive consumption. Hopefully we will find a truer way soon.

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Display: Sort:
Consuming ourselves to death | 263 comments (237 topical, 26 editorial, 2 hidden)
Great read and great write (2.80 / 5) (#1)
by jdrake on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 02:21:48 AM EST

(read: that was good)

+5 Insightful
-----------------------------------------
- If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around, is there any sound?
- If the universe is created, and nobody is around, is there any bang?

Consuming ourselves to death (4.33 / 9) (#2)
by B M on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 02:24:24 AM EST

This is not just the US. The rest of the west is not far behind and racing to catch up. We all know it but no one wants to curb their own lifestyle to change it.

Very true. (4.33 / 3) (#9)
by ajduk on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:03:19 AM EST

The latest trend in the UK, thanks to the booming house market, is for mortguage equity withdrawls to pay for consumer items (cars, holidays, christmas, etc). This is a very bad idea; the interest over a 25 year mortgage term makes credit card spending (paid off over a year) look cheap. Worse still, the housing market is due for a correction, to put it mildly. With people taking out 125% mortgages the stage is set for interesting times for many.

There are quite a few SUV type cars on the roads, but luckily our petrol prices are high enough to make most people think twice.

[ Parent ]

The haves will have more (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by skim123 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:21:50 AM EST

As interest rates hike back up, those with non-fixed mortgages will find it hard to make payments when the already stretched themselves so they could get a house with a three car garage instead of two. I wonder if the foreclosure rate will grow in the next decade. Those with the bucks will be able to get in on some sweet deals. And then, when the housing market picks back up in 15 years or so, the haves can then sell the properties they picked up at cheap prices to the folks whom they bought them from years ago...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Already happened. (4.00 / 1) (#147)
by ajduk on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:36:35 AM EST

Last time was after the late 1980s property boom.

The practice of 'buy to let', encouraged under the tax system, means that increasingly the well off now have buy several properties.  This has now pushed the lower end of the housing market out of the reach of many young people who have to rent instead.  A direct transfer of wealth from those who are starting out to those who are already well off.

[ Parent ]

We're what? (1.60 / 5) (#117)
by Sairon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:01:36 PM EST

Consuming ourselves to death? Wtf? Eating ourselves, perhaps? When did the ability to purchase what you'd like become bad? When did it cause death? Do ya'll hate freedom and liberty so much that it makes your skin crawl?

Jared

[ Parent ]

Since when did Consuming = Freedom and Liberty (2.66 / 3) (#131)
by B M on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:16:22 AM EST



[ Parent ]
I've found... (2.00 / 1) (#209)
by Sairon on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 04:52:46 PM EST

that in systems that generally allow you to buy nearly anything, so long as you have the money, power and freedom are a result of having money. This may not be true where things are divided equally, but I can't think of a place like that in the world. Money is power. Money is freedom.

Jared

[ Parent ]

It's not "ya'll" you fsckin' ignorant ba (3.00 / 3) (#163)
by Kintanon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:37:42 AM EST

You are obviously not actually a southerner, only pretending to be one while you troll.
Everyone in the south is aware that the word is Y'all, a contraction of "You All".

And no one said it was bad that we COULD buy the things we wanted. The idea is that it's bad that we are driven to want things by the societal pressure to have as much or more stuff than your neighbor. The constant barrage of advertising pressure trying to convince you that you MUST buy this new blue widget, because the old red widget just isn't cool anymore!

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

So... (4.00 / 1) (#208)
by Sairon on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 04:49:33 PM EST

You have so little control over your spending habits that you must buy what is advertised to you? You are not required to buy anything. Relax. Be your own person.

Also, "ya'll" in that form is actually a regional usage near Pittsburgh, PA in the US. It's different than the southern usage. My usage of a regional dialect doesn't bother me much at all, really. It's not a problem of education.

Jared

[ Parent ]

Ya'll?!? (none / 0) (#234)
by Kintanon on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 11:23:41 AM EST

Umm, how you pronounce it doesn't change the way it's spelled.
Also, I don't even pay attention to advertising, much less buy every shiny widget I see. But that doesn't mean that our culture doesn't try to condition people to do so. If you think that our culture is not attempting to condition people into being consumers then argue that. Don't make personal attacks based on what you think my spending habits are. (Personal attacks RE: Y'all/Ya'll are ok though, that's a seperate discussion and can devolve into name calling, threats, and flaming dogshit on each others doorsteps.)

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

I just don't believe (none / 0) (#237)
by Sairon on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 04:22:46 PM EST

in the ideas here.  I can't see a brainwashed mass that only buys what they are told to buy. We all have our likes and dislikes, etc and buy according to that. I don't think its a vast attempt to make such a thing true. Advertising just presents to you products that you may possibly be interested in, giving you a chance to see some of the options.

I know in my case, I've given up on choosing clothes that look good on me. I'm not capable of it for whatever reason, when left to my own devices. There are several magazines that I like the judgement of, and buy clothes similar to, or the exact clothes of those that they display and advertise. I also think its very nice that mens clothing stores have a habit of putting clothing together that makes a complete and workable outfit. They think about this, I don't. I just want to look nice without much hassle. I'm happy to have ads make recomendations I can choice to ignore or respond to.

Quite honestly, I think that many people operate as I do, which is why such marketing works. Because it works, people with products use those methods. I would, too.

Jared

[ Parent ]

Advertising vs Marketing (none / 0) (#240)
by Kintanon on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 11:47:15 PM EST

Yes, you'r talking about advertising. The informative display of a product and information about it. I'm talking about Marketting. The bombardment of the consumer with flashing lights, loud noises and fast talking actors to try to associate some FEELING with their product. Cute puppies, then a shot of tires, stuff like that. These kind of people want you to think about THEIR product's brandname whenever you think of their product. There is a difference between the Advertising and Marketing.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

I guess I just don't understand... (none / 0) (#242)
by Sairon on Tue Dec 24, 2002 at 07:12:12 AM EST

the difference between the two, then. I'm having trouble seeing the great evil here, though. Jared

[ Parent ]
peer pressure (none / 0) (#243)
by chia on Tue Dec 24, 2002 at 07:38:14 AM EST

disguised as "the spirit of giving" will keep the masses in place. we are just fodder for corporations, kept alive to feed them, kept in line through social conventions enforced by corporations. we are lower lifeforms than corporations.


Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. O Wilde
[ Parent ]
One solution... (3.30 / 10) (#7)
by SwampGas on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 02:59:29 AM EST

You could always do your shopping overnight.  I really enjoy staying up until 6am and sleeping until 3pm.  It's a pain in the winter because you never see daylight, but it's SO nice out there without all these ignoramus people around.

How many times have you had a near wreck and say "WATCH WHERE YOU'RE DRIVING, ASS CLOWN!"  Doesn't happen overnight...noone on the roads.

How many times do you sit at a red light and get to hear 3 songs on the radio?  Doesn't happen overnight...most of the lights blink.

How many times have you walked into a store and gotten SO angry at the idiot people around you, the idiot people trying to be around you and the idiot people who were around you?  Walmart is empty overnight....except for the occasional teenage parents dragging their 10 month and 4 year old through the store kicking and screaming.  They buy PLENTY of essentials...DVDs, whore-looking clothes for her, NASCAR stuff for him....and then they hop into their scratched, dented, Honda Civic with the tinted windows and one door the wrong color, not properly securing their children.

But I digress....I know your write up is mostly about introspection into modern life, but I simply HAD to get that off my chest since you mentioned how the public sucks.

one problem (3.50 / 8) (#18)
by Rahaan on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:35:25 AM EST

I can never seem to avoid the ignoramuses posing as pretentious assholes at night.  The ones with anger management issues, easily frustrated by such simple things as stop-lights, traffic, lines at Walmart, NASCAR, and Honda Civics.

How can I avoid those idiot people?


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

24 shopping (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by theburtman on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:03:27 AM EST

I love wandering through supermarkets at 4am in the morning, we tend to go as a car load and spend an hour or so just buying crap in the middle of the night and annoying the night staff. its fun thiers nothing quite like doing stuff at night when theirs no people around.
--
Cant spell wont spell, Dsylexi and Lazy
Deal
[ Parent ]
Argh (3.20 / 5) (#111)
by rusty on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:22:33 PM EST

"4am in the morning" is redundantly repetitive and unnecessarily superfluous!

Sorry, just a personal tic.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

wow (2.00 / 1) (#145)
by theburtman on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:07:47 AM EST

sorry!
--
Cant spell wont spell, Dsylexi and Lazy
Deal
[ Parent ]
No problem (none / 0) (#179)
by rusty on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:28:55 PM EST

Just don't let it happen again. ;-)

Seriously, "4am in the morning" doesn't annoy me even 1/4 as much as people who qualify "unique." Don't even get me started on them. I can rant for a full half hour nonstop on how asinine it is to say something like "somewhat unique" or "fairly unique" or even "wholly unique."

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Reasonably Unique (none / 0) (#198)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 09:31:55 PM EST

I've seen, and used, that one in programming contexts. Rather like "pseudo-random".

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
Mmmm (none / 0) (#199)
by rusty on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:53:47 PM EST

Well, the programmer in me says it's kind of legit, since it means "we'll assume it's unique, even though we realize that given enough time it really isn't" which does, implicitly, preserve the fundamentally binary nature of "unique." But the editor in me thinks there's got to be a better name for that. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#211)
by pmc on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 08:55:58 PM EST

While qualifying "unique" is usually a cardinal sin, there are times when it is valid - "almost unique" is synonymous with very few, for example. There are a few other times when unique can be modified - such as using "very unique" in an ironic fashion: "She thought she had a unique artistic vision. Luckily, it was very unique." clearly suggests that she was a loon.

The same arguments can be applied to any absolute (parallel, perpendicular, equal, and so on) yet language isn't logic - you can get degrees of these. Indeed, one of the more fanous quotes from twentieth century literature uses a modifier with an absolute to powerful effect: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others"


[ Parent ]

Another good alternative (none / 0) (#260)
by irishchick01 on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 07:40:22 PM EST

Good idea. I used enjoy your way of avoiding such large crowds of people back when I was better at handling staying up really late. Now I just do everything online and love it! The only shopping I have to actually leave the comforts of home for is the grocery. (And in that regard, I have found that it is pretty empty in the middle of the day.)

[ Parent ]
Curse you! (4.12 / 8) (#10)
by zerth on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:17:34 AM EST

Now I crave swedish fish but must wait till daylight...

Rusty isn't God here, he's the pope; our God is pedantry. -- Subtillus
Surely you have some 24-hour grocery store nearby? (1.00 / 1) (#141)
by skim123 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:24:48 AM EST


Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Two words: (4.18 / 11) (#12)
by Quila on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:01:45 AM EST

Fight Club

My thoughts exactly (2.50 / 4) (#14)
by Rasman on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:24:39 AM EST

I just watched that move for the umpteenth time last night, and I was thinking about posting a Tyler Durden quote...I still might.

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
Okay (3.20 / 5) (#16)
by Quila on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:40:25 AM EST

The things you own end up owning you.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don't need.

[ Parent ]

Bob had bitch tits. (1.66 / 3) (#34)
by local roger on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:31:37 AM EST

You are decaying organic matter like everything else.

Until you understand that one die you will die, you are useless.

On the bloody morning after / One tin soldier rides away. -- Joan Baez
[ Parent ]

Don't forget.... (3.00 / 3) (#40)
by Elkor on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:50:00 AM EST

My favorite:
"..it's only after you've lost everything that you are free to do anything. It's time to let that which does not matter truly slide."

Regards,

Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Janis Joplin (3.00 / 5) (#52)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:28:09 AM EST

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose

[ Parent ]
Not Janis Joplin (4.80 / 5) (#88)
by odaiwai on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:57:11 AM EST

It's Kris Kristofferson, from "Me and Bobbie McGee"

It's:

"Freedom's just another little word for
 Nothin' left to lose."

dave
-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]

You are correct (4.00 / 3) (#106)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:57:00 PM EST

Kristofferson was the composer and the first to sing the song in 1970, a year latter Janis Joplin covered it. I assume you can forgive the confusion, as it was Janis who made that particular song so popular with her characteristic, uh, voice.

[ Parent ]
Fight Club (none / 0) (#185)
by Psycho Les on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:10:10 PM EST

Is McDonalds philosophy for the spiritually bankrupt.

[ Parent ]
The truer way... (3.50 / 2) (#13)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:23:28 AM EST

IMHO will be found when we start Sharing.

Right. (3.00 / 1) (#133)
by bjlhct on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:36:29 AM EST

I haven't seen this myself, but a couple people I know have seen the aid to Cuba sold to tourists, not given to people who need it. Even charities are corrupt - that recent article here was pretty accurate, unfortunately.

Once in a while the more social emotions take over in people and they'll go on about how other people should be more like them and give up creature comforts to help the rest of the world. Except they don't ever really accomplish much towards that goal. "Noble goal?" Even what people consider noble is pretty ephemeral. And when there's any time they can't have it all they go nuts

Life is basically stuff. People make stuff, and use stuff, and even people's sense of fairness which they say is more important than stuff involves other people not getting stuff.

But I have to point out that if the point of America is to make a lot of stuff, it's not very well designed for that.

Oh wait, nevermind, it's not very well designed for doing anything.

*
kur0(or)5hin - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

sharing (3.00 / 1) (#149)
by mreardon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:53:29 AM EST

I haven't seen this myself, but a couple people I know have seen the aid to Cuba sold to tourists, not given to people who need it. Even charities are corrupt - that recent article here was pretty accurate, unfortunately.
If you are waiting for the world to be perfect before you start acting to help then surely that is missing the whole point, IMHO.

[ Parent ]
More like... (3.00 / 1) (#173)
by bjlhct on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 02:29:59 PM EST

More like waiting to find somebody better than a highway robber to give alms to.

*
kur0(or)5hin - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Mr. Durden says... (3.81 / 11) (#15)
by Rasman on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:28:54 AM EST

"You are not your job. You are not the money in your bank account. You are not the car you drive. You are not how much money is in your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."
-Tyler Durden


"The things you own end up owning you."
-Tyler Durden


---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
Mr Durden (2.00 / 3) (#33)
by anon868 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:28:23 AM EST

also blew up skyscrapers.
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (4.00 / 3) (#104)
by Rasman on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:34:25 PM EST

Unlike Osama, he removed all the people first!

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
It's people like you (2.20 / 5) (#51)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:27:15 AM EST

That make that movie the Worst Movie Ever. And I'm including I Love Trouble.

Also, you really should attribute that quote in your signature.

[ Parent ]

It's people like you (3.66 / 3) (#53)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:29:25 AM EST

That make that movie one of the best movies ever.

[ Parent ]
Best movies for trolling! [nt] (2.00 / 3) (#55)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:33:07 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Eh? What don't you like about it? NT (1.00 / 1) (#72)
by Shovas on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:12:54 AM EST


---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
It's not the movie.. (2.00 / 3) (#121)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:13:43 PM EST

I liked the movie well enough, it's the fanboys I hate. There's a certain set of fans out there who seem to take the movie as the Third Testament or something. All the quoting of various parts of the movie as embodiment (justification for perhaps?) of hatres towards the popular and materialistic/consumeristic aspects of our culture just pisses me off. Bleating out quotes from a character isn't a good way to make a point, it's just masturbation. I don't even hold the opinion that the movie is making the point they seem to think it's making.

So to me: nice movie, irritating fans.

[ Parent ]

That's sometimes true, (4.00 / 4) (#123)
by Shovas on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:22:48 PM EST

At the same time, though, I have to say the quotes carry wait as they're quotations from Tolkien's hand. Tolkien wrote on some very good stuff and expounded well on certain themes. Sometimes people can go overboard, though.

Honestly, if I had it my way, we'd all read the books and then maybe see the movie. In that order. No other. And reading the books would be mandatory, anyway, as there such good books. heh
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
I like Tolkien (3.00 / 1) (#168)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 11:08:43 AM EST

I was talking about Fightclub. I find Tolkien fans to be magnitudes less annoying.

[ Parent ]
From a fangirl, rather than a "fanboy" (none / 0) (#261)
by irishchick01 on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 08:20:04 PM EST

I understand how you feel about how fans can sometimes obsess too much, but in this case it is quite appropriate. Fight Club is a social commentary. It is also the first movie to speak to our generation, which is certainly welcome after spending our entire academic careers reading and interpreting works directed towards others people's generations (for example, see the Lost Generation: <yawn.>). I'm glad that something finally came out that so many of my peers could relate to. (Of course this voice I refer to seems to have a lot of negative things to say, but that is a whole different topic.)

[ Parent ]
I attribute the quote in my signature to: (1.66 / 3) (#105)
by Rasman on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:36:45 PM EST

ME!

Apparently Fight Club was too intellectual for your tastes...

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
Subject (1.50 / 4) (#120)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:58:26 PM EST

So you haven't stolen the quote from JWZ, then.

Apparently Fight Club was too intellectual for your tastes...

Indeed. Given your apparent take on the movie, you're hardly one to be making that judgement. I could be wrong; perhaps you were being *incredibly* sarcastic.

[ Parent ]

So what? (1.66 / 3) (#156)
by Rasman on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 06:34:15 AM EST

I've really never heard of that person or that website, but I think the fact that we arrived to the same conclusion speaks volumes.

...

Oh gosh! I hope no one has ever used the phrase "I've really never heard of that person"!! I could be plagiarizing!! Oh dear! I'm so concerned!!!!

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
The weird thing is (1.50 / 2) (#166)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:55:26 AM EST

That you seem to infer that I'm actually a Linux zealot and/or fan.

PLONK!

[ Parent ]

What??? (2.50 / 2) (#170)
by Rasman on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 11:29:31 AM EST

"That you seem to infer that I'm actually a Linux zealot and/or fan."
What??? How did I imply that? Just because I stated that I am in agreement with a sentence that I said I thought of, does not imply that you are against my statement. I there was absolutely no implication in my comment. Is there anything about you in my statement? Let's look:
"I've really never heard of that person or that website, but I think the fact that we arrived to the same conclusion speaks volumes."
Hmmm... Nope!

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#176)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:20:20 PM EST

The statement: but I think the fact that we arrived to the same conclusion speaks volumes." doesn't seem to belong the conversation with respect to what we were talking about, so the only reason I could think for you to bring it up was if you assumed I was some kind of Linux supporter. My bad.

[ Parent ]
Also (1.00 / 2) (#167)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:57:57 AM EST

The quote didn't show up on that site, it showed up on Slashdot. But take credit for it if you like, I certainly don't believe you came up with on your own, given the kind of sheep you seem to be.

[ Parent ]
Baaaa! (1.00 / 2) (#174)
by Rasman on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:33:56 PM EST

You're doing an awful lot of judging with very little information. Care to back up your "sheep" name-calling?

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
Sheep (none / 0) (#177)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:23:37 PM EST

The parrotting of phrases from the movie Fight Club is enough for me. You obviously disagree (as from the rest of this thread), but I think it's incredibly trite to trot out phrases from that movie.

[ Parent ]
Whatever... (5.00 / 1) (#191)
by Rasman on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:49:56 PM EST

At least I got an apology out of you in the other thread. It's been an enjoyable spat. Thanks. I haven't had comment ratings this low in a while. :-)

I probably wouldn't have been so pro-FC if I hadn't just watched it. (It's still in my DVD drive...) Clearly you have a pet peeve about overuse of quotations. You know what you need? You need healthy, natural sleep. Chew some valerian root and get some more exercise. :-)

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
All's well... (5.00 / 1) (#194)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 06:00:05 PM EST

It has been.

I do have that pet peeve; I'd much rather get people's thought-out opinions in their own words. Certainly a discussion on consumerism is worthwhile.

Anyways :)

[ Parent ]

Is it me, or... (2.50 / 4) (#83)
by LaundroMat on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:40:15 AM EST

I have the impression most (mind, "most") women don't really "get" Fight Club. I'll post a diary entry on it, please comment.

[ Parent ]
Not just women (4.00 / 3) (#124)
by shadowlily on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:10:54 PM EST

I have the impression that just as many men don't get Fight Club. But I'd like to hear your explanation.

[ Parent ]
Some women, certainly (none / 0) (#247)
by epcraig on Wed Dec 25, 2002 at 08:42:04 PM EST

Once upon a time some women from the freshman dorms at the University of Oregon hired one of our taxis to go see the new Brad Pitt movie. I could hear ecstatic cries of "Brad Pitt!" dominating the four voice chorus. It's unusual to get that much detail from background noise over the two way radio, the mircophones are directional.

A few hours later I picked up four silent, solemn young women from that same theater. The only words I heard from any were the destination, and the answer to my query "What did you see?", "Fight Club".

I think they got it. I don't think they liked it.

I don't go see many movies. I saw Fight Club.


There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org
[ Parent ]

In Capitalist USA... (2.50 / 2) (#135)
by it certainly is on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 01:08:12 AM EST

material possessions own YOU!

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Piet Hein (4.50 / 2) (#146)
by borderline on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:33:38 AM EST

THE TYRANNY OF THINGS

I am trying to rule
        over ten thousand things
which I thought
        belonged to me.
All of a sudden
        a doubt take wings:
Do they...
        or could it be..?


A hardhanded hunch
        in my mind's ear rings
from whence
        such suspicions may stem:
that if you possess
        more than just eight things
then y o u
        are possessed by t h e m


[ Parent ]
possibility (4.84 / 13) (#17)
by tps12 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:18:42 AM EST

As I was leaving the store, this whole experience had left me with an odd feeling; that I was somehow detached from the part of American culture that deals with shopping in some fundamental way...that somehow I just didn't get "it", whatever "it" was. And yet, I'm probably one of the most consumptive (uh, no, not that sense of the word), dare I say, materialistic people that I know. I like my stuff. I like having stuff. I tend to think that you can't have enough of stuff...especially electronics and computer stuff.
You certainly don't "get 'it.'" You're talking about the difference between materialism and consumerism. Modern materialism, the appreciation of material objects, has been around for about a century, made possible by the Industrial Revolution. Consumerism takes it a step further; it's the appreciation of the actual purchasing of material objects. The objects themselves are unimportant (which is why they're so often disposable, or just poorly made), it's the process of obtaining them that is the new focus. This is the postmodern world, and it's why you feel out of place as a libertarian, a believer in a modern ideology that can't cope with postmodernity.

In this, as in all else,—
Y'r obd't s'v't.
tps12.—
Overused quote (3.71 / 7) (#20)
by Rot 26 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:48:34 AM EST

I noticed you used the oft-quoted figure that "the United States makes up around five percent of the world's population, we consume a whopping 25% of the world's energy resources". This is one of the most misleading facts floating around today because while we DO consume 25% of the world's energy we also produce 20 percent of the world's output. You need more energy to produce more output, so while you could still argue that we're using our 25% inefficiently if we're only getting 20% of the output with it, "4% using 25%" is a pairing of statistics specifically designed to skew opinions that can be counterbalanced by the (I think) more well thought out and accurate pairing of "20% from 25%".

I would think that 20% of the world's output output from 25% of the world's energy probably isn't so far off the ratio of other "industrialized countries" like Japan, Germany, England and the like.
1: OPERATION: HAMMERTIME!
2: A website affiliate program that doesn't suck!
There is a difference (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by fhotg on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 07:54:04 AM EST

between the question of efficiency (which you are adressing) and the question of consumerism (which is the topic). You can be world leader of consumption while being quite efficient at the same time.

[ Parent ]
Efficiency is like a coupon (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:23:06 AM EST

In order to get the savings, you need to spend, often you have to spend something that would not have otherwise been spent, thus leading to inefficiency.

[ Parent ]
The output myth (4.60 / 5) (#27)
by nonsisente on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:08:07 AM EST

Or: output of what? and what's the input?

It has been demonstrated that the ratios of labor and resources to net output ('stuff') has constantly and appreciably decreased since the 1850s (see Scarcity and Growth by H.J. Barnett & Chandler Morse).

What has tremendously increased over the same time instead are the ratios of net output and nonproduct output ('waste') (see http://www.rppi.org/ps246.html).

We're working more, using more resources and generating more pollution to actually produce less stuff - and this is true for all "industrialized countries".


[ Parent ]

We meanure productivity gains every year. (4.00 / 1) (#137)
by harryh on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:04:05 AM EST

This is flat out wrong.
As in factualy incorrect.
Productivity gains in the United States run about 2-3% per year.

This runs to the very core of what *technology* is. Technology is the creation of new products or processes that enable people to create the same ammount of stuff with less resources (physical material or labor).

I haven't read the books you reference, but how do they explain that the poor people of today are richer than the middle class of 50 years ago?

-Harry

[ Parent ]
EXACTLY (none / 0) (#189)
by Godel on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:40:07 PM EST

I haven't read the books you reference, but how do they explain that the poor people of today are richer than the middle class of 50 years ago?

This is what the capitalism bashers never manage to explain. By any objective measure, the poorest people in the USA today live better than most Kings did in the middle ages. Earning wealth is not a zero sum game.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps because... (none / 0) (#233)
by linca on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 10:36:48 AM EST

(apart from he fact that even moderatly rich people in the USA don't have a few hundreds of people at their service, a valid way to mesure wealth)

The really poor people in the US civilisation have been exported. The third world is not a separate place ; it is where the really poor people remain poor, and actually get poorer. The US (and other parts of the developed world) as a whole is the new elite, the aristocracy. Although there are still pretty poor people in the developed world (see "homeless".

It is not because the poor classes have been pushed yet farther from the higher ones that they have diseappeared.

[ Parent ]

by any objective measure the poor are better off (none / 0) (#235)
by Godel on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 04:05:09 PM EST

Please explain how people are poorer today than in the past. By any objective measure, such as child mortality, lifespan, the third world is better than before.

BTW, poverty is the natural state of mankind, we didn't make the rest of the world poor, we lifted ourselves above poverty through the colossal effort of ourselves and our ancestors.

[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#241)
by linca on Tue Dec 24, 2002 at 04:22:05 AM EST

Currently a fourth of Black African population has a life expectancy of less than ten years, thanks to AIDS. That's probably the worst performance since the European Great Plague.

The same thing is spreading through the Asia.

In southern America, most of the population is worse than 50 years ago. See Argentina, that in this century has gone from developed country to third world.

There are more poor peasants than ever in China, why do you think they are migrating en masse?

/ poverty is the natural state of mankind/

Well, no. There is no natural state of mankind. In some societies, even of hunter gatherers, everybody has the minimal resources to live. In the current "developed" world there are people dying because of cold, heat or hunger.

Poverty is also about people being left behind.


[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#246)
by Godel on Wed Dec 25, 2002 at 03:24:40 AM EST

Well, no. There is no natural state of mankind. In some societies, even of hunter gatherers, everybody has the minimal resources to live. In the current "developed" world there are people dying because of cold, heat or hunger. Look at the vast majority of human history.

Poverty is also about people being left behind.

Yawn, so If someone makes $2 billion and I only make $10 million then I'm horribly left behind. When are you going to get over this childish jealosy? I swear I honestly think people like you would be happier if everyone made the same $1000/yr rather than have some people with millions/billions and an average of $10,000/yr. Get over your jealosy/hatred it will tear you apart. You have no right to what someone else makes, if they choose to give some of it away, thank them, but to say they're obligated to give away what they worked for is to cheapen all giving.

Most poverty today is due to third world birthrates. Heres a simple example; suppose you have two countries with equal population and equal money. Country A has 1 million people and $1 billion, Country B has 1 million people and $1 billion. Now, suppose the people in Country A have 1.4 children per woman (avg European birthrate), and Country B has 6 children per woman (avg 3rd world birthrate). In a mere 2 generations, the population of Country A is 500,000 and Country B is 9 million. So now, the people in Country A have 18 times more money than the people in Country B, through no fault of their own. The real blame for the wealth disparities of the world go to Europeans/Americans for not having enough kids and third worlders for having FAR FAR more than their share. The population of South America/Africa is growing at astromical rates, and is the main cause of poverty in the region.

[ Parent ]

Cause/Effect (none / 0) (#248)
by irrevenant on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 09:25:01 AM EST

[SNIP]
The real blame for the wealth disparities of the world go to Europeans/Americans for not having enough kids and third worlders for having FAR FAR more than their share.

Isn't there supporting evidence that poverty is also the reason that third world countries have so many children? Humans, like many animals, respond to adverse conditions by having more children.



[ Parent ]
sure (none / 0) (#249)
by Godel on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 01:06:51 PM EST

Isn't there supporting evidence that poverty is also the reason that third world countries have so many children? Humans, like many animals, respond to adverse conditions by having more children.

Sure, but why am I morally obligated to help someone else spread their genes? If they wanna have 8 kids, they can support them. It seems pretty damn greedy to have 8 kids then demand handouts from others because you're poor. Alot of people would love to have more kids but don't because they make the foolish mistake of trying to be responsible and not requiring handouts. It just seems terribly unfair that people in the US/Europe are responsible and have a reasonable number of kids, and they get screwed because of it.

[ Parent ]

Stuff (none / 0) (#255)
by irrevenant on Fri Dec 27, 2002 at 04:53:15 AM EST

Sure, but why am I morally obligated to help someone else spread their genes?

That's a very interesting question, that could probably lead to volumes worth of discussion on its own. I tend to believe that it is to the species' maximum benefit to, if not level the playing field, at least raise it to a minimum height.

If we assume minimal to zero innate difference in racial capabilities (which science seems to support), then simply by the numbers, how many potential Einsteins, Da Vincis, and Stephen Hawkings die every year in the third world?

You're right - you would be helping someone else spread their genes. Their descendants could one day outperform your descendants. The question really, is how you weigh up the benefit of the species vs the benefit of your own genes.

If they wanna have 8 kids, they can support them. It seems pretty damn greedy to have 8 kids then demand handouts from others because you're poor.

It seems a bit unfair to assume greed as the motivator. In harsh conditions, you increase your family's chance of survival by having more kids. Yes, I'm sure there are cultural elements in there too (in no small part due to the harsh conditions). But in the 1st world, our family sizes only started reducing once the standard of living reached a certain level. Certain social changes eg. the two-income family have a large influence on this too.

It just seems terribly unfair that people in the US/Europe are responsible and have a reasonable number of kids, and they get screwed because of it.

You're right, it's not fair. I could conversely argue that it's not fair that the 1st world dominated and repressed the third world for centuries based on historical accident.

But frankly, I don't know that 'fair' is that useful a measuring stick. Homo sapiens is a social animal. Throughout history and prehistory we have thrived through working together for the benefit of the tribe. As time has passed, the size of our social unit has thrived. At first it was probably just the family, then the tribe, then the village, then the city, the province, the nation. (A simplification of course - each of these levels is composed of sub-tribes of many types and at many levels).

The more people you have co-operating and competing, the more the species as a whole benefits. Fair or not, our species can only benefit from raising other countries to our standard of living so that we can compete on even terms. (Yes, there's kind of a jump in the logic there - I figured this comment was getting long enough as it was).

[ Parent ]
Cause/Effect (none / 0) (#251)
by irrevenant on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 08:26:51 PM EST

[SNIP]
The real blame for the wealth disparities of the world go to Europeans/Americans for not having enough kids and third worlders for having FAR FAR more than their share.

Isn't there supporting evidence that poverty is also the reason that third world countries have so many children? Humans, like many animals, respond to adverse conditions by having more children.



[ Parent ]
Inequalities (none / 0) (#252)
by linca on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 08:31:54 PM EST

It seems you've decided to ignore the fact that the inequalities are to the scale of 2 billion to two, not to that of to billion to 10 million (although the later ends up in equating the former, ever heard of inflation?).

Huge inequalities also leads to exploitation due to inequal parties making contracts.

Finally, south American countries, particularly Argentina, do not have explosive demographics, but some relatively close to the "developed" world of which they were a part of. Check your facts.

[ Parent ]

Economics theory (1.00 / 1) (#253)
by linca on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 08:44:17 PM EST

And of course your explanation of the third world poverty is based on the assumption that the total wealth is a constant. I won't even attempt to show its ridicule. Just be aware that the population of the USA went to 260 million from a few in 200 years. It doesn't seem its inhabitants went exponentially poorer.

[ Parent ]
BS, depends how you measure output (none / 0) (#188)
by Godel on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:36:57 PM EST

How do all the new medicines that the US is researching and investing fit into your output myth? We live in an information economy here. Sure the CPUs may be manufactured in Malaysia, but they are designed and invented in the US. The new Cancer, AIDS, etc lifesaving drugs are almost all researched in the US, because the US's economic policies are quite friendly to innovaters. Trying to measure output by tons of potatoes produced per year or whatever metric you're using is ridiculous. Try looking at the ideas and thoughts produced, you know like the internet that we're talking on right now. That was invented in the good ol US of A thank you very much.

[ Parent ]
US Energy use (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by sien on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:56:03 AM EST

Actually US energy use per capita is about double the EU average. I don't know where to find the quotes to back this up off-hand however.

I've wondered about this one myself. The EU has a much higher population density than the US, but still, it shows if the US wanted to energy consumption could probably be considerably reduced.

[ Parent ]

Look at productivity (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by rhino1302 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:52:54 AM EST

I also don't have any quotes to back this up, but productivity per capita is higher in the US than in the EU.



[ Parent ]
Yep (3.00 / 2) (#100)
by Rot 26 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:40:51 PM EST

EU productivity per capita is lower and apparently it's declined over the past 5 years. This article says that the EU's productivity per capita was at ~2/3 the US's in the mid 1990s. That article's from a year and a half though, I have no idea what the situation is now. However, I believe that while productivity per capita is going down, employment is going up.

I really wish I could find a good article talking about how energy consumption and productivity per capita relate though.
1: OPERATION: HAMMERTIME!
2: A website affiliate program that doesn't suck!
[ Parent ]
SUVs (4.33 / 6) (#22)
by wiredog on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:02:03 AM EST

Warren Brown, the automotive columnist for the Washington Post, has some interesting thoughts on the growth of the SUVs popularity. He blames the environmentalists and Congress. Why? They insist on using the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards instead of using market forces. As he says, CAFE "requires that car companies meet "feasible" fleet fuel economy standards for the cars and trucks they sell in this country. It does not require consumers to buy those fuel-efficient vehicles." See also The Truth About Fuel-Efficient Vehicles.

The In Overdrive column archive.

The On Wheels auto review column archive.

Some of his reviews:
The Hummer H2.
The $310,000 (!!!)Maybach
The 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.

Wait... (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by talorin on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:56:32 AM EST

So you believe that if we got rid of fuel standards, all the yuppie fucks would start buying fuel-efficient cars?  I'm not following your logic here.

[ Parent ]
No (4.33 / 3) (#58)
by wiredog on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:37:39 AM EST

Don't just get rid of the standards. Raise the fuel taxes. If fuel costs more, people will use less of it.

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
Wait a sec. (4.33 / 3) (#61)
by fhotg on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:47:28 AM EST

I think we agree here that those 'standards' do not matter at all -- the fuel is too cheap. So either your environmentalists actually promote cheap fuel and are against high fuel taxes, or the statement which blames the enviros for high fuel consumption is bullshit.

[ Parent ]
Er... (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by kjb on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:01:16 AM EST

that's not using "market forces" either. It's just shifting the responsibility from the manufacturers to the consumers.

--
Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

What's wrong with that? (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by wiredog on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:09:07 AM EST



The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
Nothing (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by kjb on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:23:19 AM EST

There's nothing wrong with that.

I thought you were agreeing with the person who said that 'market forces' should be used. Maybe I misunderstood.

--
Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

Taxes are a market force (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by wiredog on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:22:59 PM EST

Or can be. Certainly a $2/gal fuel tax would have an effect on the market.

The greatest contribution of the internet to society is that it makes it possible for anyone of any age to become a grumpy old fart.
Parent ]
No shit... (4.00 / 1) (#162)
by Kintanon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:27:21 AM EST

It would rape all of those people making 7.25 an hour who have to drive 45 minutes to work every day because they can't afford to live closer to work and they have no bus service. Way to stick it to the poor working class. I guess if you're TRYING to get them all out of the workforce and onto welfare then you've got a good plan....

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Think long term (wish congress would) (4.00 / 1) (#172)
by nowan on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 01:13:32 PM EST

So you institute a plan that will take the next 30 years to slowly push the tax up. And you have GAO study the effects as you go.

'Course, while we're dreaming we might as well wish for fusion in a bottle.

[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#183)
by Kintanon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:57:51 PM EST

30 years... lol, I think we have a hard time getting congress to plan ahead 30 DAYS....

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

No (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by MrLarch on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:08:11 PM EST

Put the transportation of goods onto trains, get rid of the 18 wheelers, and then I'll get rid of my SUV.

The problems with "gas guzzlers" lie at more feet than arabs and politicians... well, modern politicians, anyway.

[ Parent ]

Trucks vs. Trains (4.66 / 3) (#119)
by rhino1302 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 06:57:18 PM EST

Apparently it is a little known fact that the US freight system is at or near capacity, and is very financially healthy, actually much more so than the European freight rail system (passenger rail, of course, is a very different story).

The per ton-mile share of rail freight in the US is down from about 60% in 1950 to about 40%.

Truck freight is up from about 15% to about 30%.

In that same period total ton-miles about doubled.

Total milage of Class 1 rail lines went down about 50% in the same period, though. In order to increase the share of freight railroads we need to build back the rail infrastructure. That is enormously expensive in this day and age (think school-busses and at-grade crossings).

Some nifty graphs here.



[ Parent ]
yes (3.00 / 1) (#132)
by MrLarch on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:28:02 AM EST

And we better start doing something more dramatic to its capacity to haul before the economy goes upward any or there will be problems.

[ Parent ]
CAFE has no bearing (4.00 / 1) (#125)
by hershmire on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:21:06 PM EST

SUVs are exempt from CAFE standards because they're considered heavy duty commercial vehicles. Killing standards won't do anything, since they don't apply to them anyway. Better yet, why not make the standards apply to SUVs?

Raise fuel taxes? I don't want to pay more for fuel just because some asshole finds it necessary to use a machine that consumes twice as much as my car.
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
CAFE and SUVs (none / 0) (#213)
by felixrayman on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 09:20:23 PM EST

CAFE "requires that car companies meet "feasible" fleet fuel economy standards for the cars and trucks they sell in this country. It does not require consumers to buy those fuel-efficient vehicles."

CAFE standards do NOT apply to the vehicles which you are referring ( SUVs ). That's part of the problem. And even someone with the slightest knowledge of economics would know that a 'free rider' problem, which is what you have with SUVs, can not be solved with a free market. You should know better than to expect journalism from the Washington Post - please regurgitate such idiocy elsewhere.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
And what is the root (4.25 / 8) (#23)
by fhotg on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:16:01 AM EST

of the evil ?
Hopefully we will find a truer way soon.
There is no reason for optimism. The root cause of this irrational behaviour lies in the deadlock made from christian (protestant) ethics and capitalism. Both of which will be hard to get rid of in the near future. Max Weber wrote a book about it ( The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism)
Where the fulfillment of the calling cannot directly be related to the highest spiritual and cultural values, or when, on the other hand, it need not be felt simply as economic compulsion, the individual generally abandons the attempt to justify it at all. In the field of its highest development, in the United States, the pursuit of wealth, stripped of its religious and ethical meaning, tends to become associated with purely mundane passions, which often actually give it the character of sport.
(Weber, 1958)

there is great reason for optimism (2.50 / 2) (#35)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:32:18 AM EST

The current ways are unstustainable. A new way must prevail or the division between the haves and have-nots will rent the planet.

[ Parent ]
That's why you think there's cause for optimism?!? (2.50 / 2) (#154)
by kcbrown on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:48:16 AM EST

A new way must prevail or the division between the haves and have-nots will rent the planet.
What, and you don't think the darker option is what's likely to happen?

Given all the shit that's happening in the world and how much of it is the result of the U.S. and its inflated view of its own importance, I think the darker option is much more likely to happen.

But I think the result will be a global police state, and it might even happen without too much spilt blood. It's not like we're not already on the fast track to that right now...

[ Parent ]

optimism (2.00 / 2) (#155)
by mreardon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 06:32:41 AM EST

What, and you don't think the darker option is what's likely to happen?
Without these Men and Others, I would be inclined to agree with you. It would already have happened, the planet would have been destroyed. We owe Them a great debt. Without Their help, we would be like a toddler playing at a cliffs edge.
Given all the shit that's happening in the world and how much of it is the result of the U.S. and its inflated view of its own importance, I think the darker option is much more likely to happen.
In the short term I am inclined to agree, especially with the current US administration, but in the long term I a believe humanity will make the right choices. When the stock markets crash this will lead to the necessary correct re-appraisal of our motives and values. Profit will not be regarded as higher than a human life, IMHO.
But I think the result will be a global police state, and it might even happen without too much spilt blood. It's not like we're not already on the fast track to that right now...
Certianly the technolgy for this to happen will be available. It all depends on the motives of those who have access to the technolgy. IMHO, it will not be given to those who have not proven correct motives. And such a technolgy, in the correct hands, could transform the world. It is difficult to magine no crime, but I believe this technolgy will achieve this.

[ Parent ]
You mean, like this (none / 0) (#197)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 09:18:53 PM EST

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Scary, if you give it any credence
:-)


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

This was Nero (none / 0) (#222)
by mreardon on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 10:24:35 AM EST

Peter Liefhebber has an interesting article about this, IMHO. To cut a long story short here is the gist:
"I am constantly astonished to see that people still do not appear to know what has been recognized for one and a half centuries: that the beast from the Apocalypse refers to none other than the Caesar, Nero. Only the later Christian church, in the time of Constantine (325 AD), put the Apocalypse into a future, historical time-frame." (From: Was Morgenwahr sein kann, Econ Verlag)


[ Parent ]
Yes, it's all the christians (2.50 / 2) (#139)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:21:56 AM EST

I would tend to blame it more on the inherant greed of man caused by his will to procreate. This collection of stuff is just an off shoot of greed, and Advertisment.
124
[ Parent ]
This would have been better... (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by theforlornone on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:50:47 AM EST

without the J. Lo. reference.

--------------
It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!
-Nietzsche
heh. Sorry. (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by tarpy on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:10:58 AM EST

My girlfriend has been singing that to me all this past week (to annoy me...lovely relationship we have), and I finally found a slightly tangential way to use it...couldn't resist. :D


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]
understandable.. (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by theforlornone on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:23:08 AM EST

it happens :)

--------------
It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!
-Nietzsche
[ Parent ]
Sears Hardware (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by bobpence on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:59:07 AM EST

I went to Sears Hardware on Tuesday night and found that it was not crowded. In fact, I didn't even feel badly about using a cashier's time paying my Sears credit card bill. Also, I noticed they had plenty of stock of their good, cheap, and bulk-quantity Bagzilla brand trash bags. They have work gloves, and some candy toward the front, perhaps Swedish Fish in some of their stores; no DVD's.

Of course, if you want to get something specific and need to go somewhere specific to get it, it may be that a lot of other people might also want something else specific for which they need to go to the same specific somewhere. And they might cry in their cappucino about it just like you. Get over yourself.

P.S. Energy consumption should be compared along the lines of weather also, not to mention productivity. Homes in temperate regions can be of a more open design to take advantage of breezes in the hot summer, need little heat in the warm winter, and generally have more hours of daylight. In the U.S., where houmes are usually sealed tight, air conditioning takes up about 13% of household electric consumption yearly, and heating also consumes a good deal of electricity, plus other forms of energy; lighting accounts for another 9% of electric. Add that to the productivity of the U.S. economy versus, say, Jamaica, and you see that evolution -- white LED's replacing incandescent, more efficient appliances -- rather than revolution is the best approach.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

"excessive" consumption (3.00 / 3) (#26)
by gibichung on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 08:59:35 AM EST

It's a given that the "wants" or "demand" in the economy are insatiable. In this time of relative plenty, you may condemn "consumerism," but I don't think that you'd have the gall to do so to the face of an American sharecropper of 100 years ago.

It is sustainable: two-thirds of its growth is attributed to increased efficiency rather than utilization of new resources. Demand alone can motivate such increases in efficiency.

The United States has the highest GDP in the world and one of the highest per-capita; you couldn't assemble a better 280 million people from runners-up the world over. This is where your 25% of the world's energy resources go.

You make a case against consumerism. Show me a better alternative.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt

hang on a second....its not sustainable (4.14 / 7) (#31)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:25:23 AM EST

The USA is borrowing $4bn a day to feed it's consumerism. You will see a better alternative when your creditors realize they are not going to get their money back.

It is definitely not sustainable.

35,000 people a day die from poverty in a world of plenty. Do you have the gall to call this a case for consumerism?

A better system would be IMHO, one in which the rich sacrifice some of their wants so the poor can secure all of their basic needs!

[ Parent ]

People should not have to sacrifice their wants (3.00 / 4) (#41)
by minerboy on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:50:52 AM EST

Honestly, I think from a purely economic standpoint, it may well be sustainable (see works by Julian Simon). More people consuming, mean more people thinking (how to better consume), means more people designing more things, etc. If we judge the quality of life we have by the number of things we have, then the more people the better. Humans are not deer, and the equations used to judge carrying capacity for an ecosystem cannot be used to determine how many humans the planet can sustain

The far better question has to do with long term psychological and evolutionary effects of consumerism, Resulting population growth, and the Urban lifestyle it breeds. Are we better off with more things than friends?

Geezuz, hasn't anyone watched "its a wonderful life" yet this year ?



[ Parent ]
it was only some of their wants (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:30:59 AM EST

A fair swap for every human being on the planet securing all of their needs, IMHO.

[ Parent ]
People should have the right wants (4.75 / 4) (#59)
by fhotg on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:38:44 AM EST

If we judge the quality of life we have by the number of things we have,...
We don't, we are intelligent and older than 3 years.
and the equations used to judge carrying capacity for an ecosystem cannot be used to determine how many humans the planet can sustain.
Oh yes, humans are part of the ecosystem, just as deer. When it comes down to biological needs. And yes, there is a carrying capacity for humans for they eat and shit too.

Funny how the basic fact that biology and ecosystems are the primary source of any wealth is forgotten or even bluntly denied.

[ Parent ]

Not rocket science (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by gibichung on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:06:53 AM EST

Oh yes, humans are part of the ecosystem, just as deer. When it comes down to biological needs. And yes, there is a carrying capacity for humans for they eat and shit too.
Deer are subject to the environment, while the environment is subject to man. In a forest, if there are too many deer they will starve, but if there are too many men, they cut the trees and plant crops.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
Environment (4.75 / 4) (#74)
by RoOoBo on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:19:24 AM EST

And then they will die after no more rain comes, the soil gets over exploited and exponential overpopulation overcomes any chances of improving crop planting.

Pascua Island anyone?



[ Parent ]
If the survival of the inhabitants (2.00 / 2) (#81)
by gibichung on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:32:13 AM EST

of the island was in question, they could simply import what they need or replant the forests.

While the world may be an island, it is a very large island in no danger of such a fate. It has lasted this long, and it is now the twenty-first century. You aren't the only person who knows better, and the fact that you do only hurts your case.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

Are you telling me the time... (1.00 / 2) (#84)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:46:05 AM EST

Or are you actually saying the earth is approx. 2000 years old?

[ Parent ]
And in doing so... (3.00 / 2) (#87)
by Fon2d2 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:52:01 AM EST

man has just changed the environment in a manner that is most likely unsustainable in the long term. Certainly man can reroute resources away from indigenous species by changing the use of the land but even that has an upper limit. Man will almost certainly go beyond that upper limit for short term gains in crop production and population growth and either ignore or misunderstand the consequences of eroded and unusable soil to come. Furthermore, he's most likely to further increase the instability of his lifestyle by using the wood from that forest for additional short term increases in standard of living and population growth. The only reason our society enjoys such a high standard of living is due to the large energy throughput granted by oil. Oil is not a sustainable, renewable resource. Even if it were, we're still living beyond our means the way our agricultural industry taxes its own land. As we come out with better fertilizers, better pesticides, and higher yield crops, we are certainly losing out with undernourished, overburdened soil and more vulnerable monoculture crops. The agricultural industry needs to import the necessary nitrogen and pesticides required to keep the fragile ecosystem they have created alive at great external cost. This is only economically viable due to the vast economies of scale granted by oil. But even if we found a renewable alternative to oil, this agricultural industry is pathetic in its inefficiency, using far more energy input than is contained in the food it produces, which is almost certainly the reverse of the way it ought to be. No, it's not rocket science. Anybody, with a minimal amount of study, can do this kind of analysis and easily debunk your simplistic statements.

[ Parent ]
Enviromental science? (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by Redemption042 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:35:00 PM EST

I think that you believe our ability and knowledge of enviromental science are WAY WAY beyond what they will be in hundred years.

[ Parent ]
Funny how Science gets oversimplified (3.33 / 3) (#82)
by minerboy on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:34:16 AM EST

The following statement is a fallacy created by 8th grade science teachers, it is just not true -

Oh yes, humans are part of the ecosystem, just as deer. When it comes down to biological needs. And yes, there is a carrying capacity for humans for they eat and shit too. Funny how the basic fact that biology and ecosystems are the primary source of any wealth is forgotten or even bluntly denied.
Deer cannot improve agriculture, make more efficient materials, create new livable spaces, recycle their shit, etc. The primary source of wealth is information.



[ Parent ]
Some things are simple (4.50 / 2) (#94)
by fhotg on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:09:26 PM EST

Deer cannot improve agriculture, make more efficient materials, create new livable spaces, recycle their shit, etc.
Yeah, men can better adapt than deer, I didn't state otherwise.

You can fertilize and plow and breed plants. You cannot replace eroded topsoil. The fertilizer has to come from somewhere as has the base for "new materials" and buildings and the energy to "recycle shit". I'm talking elementary mass- and energy balances here.

That these facts are not the limiting factors at the moment in many inhabited environments I do not question. They are facts though.
~~~
Gitarren fr die Mdchen -- Champagner fr die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Funny how science gets ignored.. (3.00 / 1) (#158)
by ajduk on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 08:25:05 AM EST

When economists talk..

The primary source of wealth is not information, it's energy.  Try running any economic process without it.

With a supply of energy, it is possable to do pretty much anything within the laws of physics and the bounds of technology [or information as you may call it].  Information is very much secondary; it may reduce the amount of energy required for a process (but only within the laws of physics), or find new ways of using energy.

So the carrying capacity for humans is defined by the total energy avaliable divided by the amount of energy needed per person.  Factors like the degredation of agricultural land mean higher energy requirements per person; as does any requirement to use lower grade mineral deposits, for example.  

[ Parent ]

The United States as a HIPC (4.50 / 2) (#93)
by Fon2d2 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:09:24 PM EST

I wish I understood that article better. I am not well versed in the terminology, theory, or practical application of global economics. That put a lot of the discussion in the article over my head and allowed me to attain only a cursory understanding of its argument. That's unfortunate because I found the article very interesting and have long wondered about the cause of poverty in third world countries. Could anybody elaborate on the article or perhaps point me to a more introductory explanation of global economics? I would like to now how the process of "capital flight" takes place? Are poor governments subsidizing business, or are the businesses able to suck that capital out of the local economy. And why does the US enjoy such low interest loans, or conversely, why does the capital gravitate to the country with the highest standard of living, even if its debt is highest? I will have to do more studying of these issues.

[ Parent ]
"The Best Democracy Money can Buy" (3.00 / 1) (#98)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:33:33 PM EST

By Greg Palast, might be a good start, IMHO. Greg also interviewed Joe Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Ecomomist.

[ Parent ]
William Brandt is also quite good, IMHO (3.00 / 1) (#101)
by mreardon on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:41:12 PM EST

Brandt Forum for 21st Century

[ Parent ]
hardly an econ professor (3.50 / 2) (#127)
by hakatak on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:29:38 PM EST

I am hardly versed in global economics, but I would imagine that most lending activity goes to borrowers who are most likely to pay back their loans.  We all hear stories of poor and/or small countries defaulting on their IMF loans; conversely, let someone who makes $12,000 a year and has bounced a few checks try to apply for a platinum credit card.

The ones who have the money have the easiest time getting more; hence, global corporations or large national corporations w/bucos assets are considered credit-worthy, and can continue to build on themselves.

to tie into another post, I don't think the market is inherently fair at all - free markets are economic anarchy, and after a few companies establish themselves as wealthier than other ones, they will use their newfound power to push other companies further down and pull themselves further up.  or, worse yet, companies collude because it will make them more money.  in a free market, the big players want everyone else to be downtrodden.
"We are nihilists; we believe in nothing! And tomorrow, we will cut off your johnson!!"
[ Parent ]

Lending in the Developing World (4.00 / 1) (#144)
by Wildgoose on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:59:15 AM EST

Most lending is in amounts too large for the average person in a developing country. (It's also all too often to corrupt kleptocracies, but that's another story).

You can do something about this.

Here in the UK, there is an organisation called Shared Interest which lends money to these ordinary people. By lending them your money at zero (or a low) rate of return, you enable them to lend it out in tiny amounts to people trying to start small businesses and support themselves.

A classic example I remember was a woman in a remote village in India who used the money to buy a mobile 'phone. She rented out its use to other villagers, repaying the loan, supporting herself, and providing the village with communications for the first time.

There will be similar organisations (part of the co-operative and Fair Trade movements) in other countries. Please support them.

[ Parent ]

sounds like the Grameen Bank (none / 0) (#220)
by nebben123 on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 05:51:26 AM EST

Grameen Bank

[ Parent ]
Capital Flight (5.00 / 1) (#193)
by Kwil on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:56:25 PM EST

It's actually a fairly simple concept, though how it occurs is a little more convoluted.

The concept is that people in various countries invest in various business opportunities in a poor country.  For whatever reasons, they start pulling their investment out, and the economy - relying on these investors - collapses.

Almost all countries have some government support of their various business agencies, even if it's not direct support - such as financing a transportation infrastructure. This helps local companies to create a small profit. Because of the massive amounts of debt of that country though, there are various impediments to making a profit, such as high government taxes, or necessary resources being unavailable as they are sold (by the government if public resources (minerals, etc) or by private owners if private resources) to out of country corporations that can use their out of country over-valued dollars to purchase the products.

Despite this, investors, always seeking a way to make money, may invest in companies in the foreign country, hoping that since the country has a lot of room to expand economically, they will be able to make large profits.

However, something happens that severely weakens the government or local market in said poor country. This could be as simple as the major multi-national corporation operating in the area deciding to scale back to please the U.S. stock market (harming the local market), or something as complex as building threats of revolution putting the transportation infrastructure at risk (weakening the government)

At this point, the investor from country A looks at what's going on and sees that s/he has a good chance of losing his/her money completely if its left invested in this country. It'll be sucked up by increased transport costs, seized by revolutionaries, simply not have a market for the products to be sold to or whatever.  This is when the investor pulls out.  Operating on the fringe of profitability as it is, the company that the investor left is generally  faced with no choice but to disappear - it can't afford to stay in operation.

As investors pull out, this leads to a snowball effect, because as companies collapse, less people in the country are making money, so less people can buy products.  More investors realize there's nobody to buy the products their money is invested in, so no profit, so also pull out, in turn collapsing more businesses, etc.

Eventually, this leads to a full rout, as happened in Argentina, where investors were attempting to even pull their money out of the Banks of Argentina before the currency became worthless.

With no money in the bank to finance new business ventures (including, for some people, even their savings disappearing) and unemployment skyrocketing, nobody was making money to pay for resources to start up a business, etc.  No investors want to come in because nobody's making any money so there's no market. The only thing left for the country is to sell its natural resources to someone out of the country -- but with no local businesses to process those resources they become more expensive than those available somewhere else.

Eventually, this will all stabilize at a point where a foreign company can come in and hire people for basically less than it takes to feed them for their work. Once it all flatlines like this, it can start being built back up from the ground floor, starting with exploitative resource harvesting companies coming in first and eventually leading to a few people being able to make somewhat less of a living on the employees of the harvesting companies, etc.

The other alternative is what's happening now in Argentina. Many of the people have discarded the infrastructure of money and are going back to the barter system.  I make this to give to you if you make that to give to me. Eventually, this leads to a point where the transactions are complex enough that money will be required again. (I make this for you now, you promise to somehow provide me with something I need in the future (eg, promissory notes, which can eventually become currency))  This alternative is the slower of the two, but also the better, since it discards any reliance on out of country investors.

Of course, investors from out of country have a marked aversion to this kind of building, as it gives them no opportunity to make money. Hence we see things like the IMF & WTO requiring increased liberalization of trade laws (or in other words governments being disallowed from making laws that slow or stop foreign investment, even if it is to protect the local citizens from suffering from capital flight.)

Hope this helps.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Sustainable only if resources are unlimited... (4.28 / 7) (#32)
by nonsisente on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:25:56 AM EST

...and they are not.

I agree, economically it's a very sound concept - but it's flawed, because the economy does not contemplate depletion.

Sure, we will reach the social limits of sustainability before we reach the physical ones - but ignoring them because 'it runs so well' won't spare us from the dire consequences.

[ Parent ]

A better alternative? (3.00 / 3) (#49)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:15:56 AM EST

How 'bout mass, ritual suicide?

[ Parent ]
I want the golden goose, daddy! (4.83 / 6) (#69)
by tarpy on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:08:50 AM EST

It's a given that the "wants" or "demand" in the economy are insatiable. In this time of relative plenty, you may condemn "consumerism," but I don't think that you'd have the gall to do so to the face of an American sharecropper of 100 years ago.

Two things: The wants or demands in an economy are satiable...one needs to look no further than the concept of market saturation to realize that there is a certain limit to the growth of a need.

The other thing, what does the modern concept of consumerism have to do with sharecroppers? I claim that the society we have today is radically different. Here our basic needs (a la Maslow) are mostly met (at least for the great majority of us here in the Unites States)...and we spend our time gathering goods that are not necessary to the fundamental survival of the species or ourselves as individuals. Sharecroppers had to work hard (and I dare say, harder than most of us here ever will have to work) to just survive. Their desperate struggle to survive isn't the problem, our desire for more and more and more and more things is. We're like Veruca Salt...we want our Oompa-Loompa now!

The United States has the highest GDP in the world and one of the highest per-capita; you couldn't assemble a better 280 million people from runners-up the world over. This is where your 25% of the world's energy resources go.

BWA HA HA HA HA! Oh yeah I could. Hell even at my own company, I would gladly substitute some of my American co-workers for some European friends and we'd all be better off.

You make a case against consumerism. Show me a better alternative.

I don't have one yet. God knows, as a small-l libertarian, I should sit back and let the market work its magic. But I'm starting to believe (as does my Naderite girlfriend) that the market we have here today is unpure...that it's stacked against the 'little' people. That there's too many 'loopholes' that the government has given the entrenched major corporations, and therefore the market can't work as it is intended.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

"BWA HA HA HA HA!" (4.00 / 2) (#78)
by gibichung on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:24:05 AM EST

Two things: The wants or demands in an economy are satiable...one needs to look no further than the concept of market saturation to realize that there is a certain limit to the growth of a need.
Of a specific market, perhaps, but saturation in one market leads to growth in others; for instance, when a population's demand for food is met, their demand for education increases, as does their demand for "luxury" goods like DVDs and shoes.
Their desperate struggle to survive isn't the problem, our desire for more and more and more and more things is.
Their toil has ended because of "consumerism." They didn't build the machines that liberated them from their labor, but they benefited from them.
Hell even at my own company, I would gladly substitute some of my American co-workers for some European friends and we'd all be better off.
That wasn't my intention. I stated that it is not possible to assemble a 280-million-person nation from entire other nations with a total GDP on par with that of the United States.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
EU (none / 0) (#180)
by eudas on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:34:31 PM EST

how does your comment deal with entities such as the EU, while comparing to the US?

eudas
"Nothing is on fire, but the day is still young" -- Phil the Canuck
[ Parent ]

GDP (4.66 / 3) (#97)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:30:58 PM EST

The United States has the highest GDP in the world and one of the highest per-capita; you couldn't assemble a better 280 million people from runners-up the world over.

You imply that raising the GDP is purely a good thing. I don't think that's true; activities like divorce, disease, lawsuits, vandalism, motor vehicle accidents, etc, all raise the GDP.

The GDP may be a useful summary number in purely economic analyses, but it's silly to assume that raising it is always good. The people of the US may be hard-working, but maybe they're needlessly wasteful and destructive, too. Maybe the path to an even more affluent lifestyle lies in somewhat less work and dramatically less waste; but that would drive the GDP down, not up.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

I'm a uni student (4.00 / 8) (#28)
by Talez on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:11:28 AM EST

Today I spent 50 cents on a bottle of water, a buck on 2L of pepsi from the supermarket and 5 bucks on a magazine.

And that's me splashing out...

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Luxury! (3.72 / 11) (#36)
by local roger on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:33:59 AM EST

When I was a student I lived in a hole in the middle of the road. I drank sulphuric acid for my tea.

On the bloody morning after / One tin soldier rides away. -- Joan Baez
[ Parent ]
You sir (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by Talez on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:39:52 AM EST

Are very amusing.

Please accept this 5 as a token of my appreciation for brightening up my humble day.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
[ Parent ]

I know you! (1.50 / 2) (#48)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:13:48 AM EST

You were that familly that used to lick the road clean with your tounges, yes?

[ Parent ]
You had a hole? (4.00 / 5) (#108)
by Happy Monkey on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 02:55:49 PM EST

Well, lah dee dah! Mr "Protected from the elements" born with a silver spoon in your mouth!
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
You had elements!? (4.00 / 5) (#113)
by rusty on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:43:42 PM EST

Lucky! And there was I with nothing but vacuum in every direction. You were living in the lap of luxury, buddy.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
You were?! (2.00 / 2) (#130)
by Stereo on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:09:42 AM EST

How Spoiled! I was void! Not even vacuum where I grew up!

kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


[ Parent ]
Nice to know... (2.50 / 2) (#134)
by Bios_Hakr on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 12:46:35 AM EST

...our hallowed father spends his time only responding to the important comments. :p


[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#178)
by rusty on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:26:23 PM EST

What, I don't get to have any fun? ;-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Ok, truth about my financial situation.. (3.00 / 2) (#157)
by mikael_j on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 07:46:10 AM EST

This week (since monday) I have eaten the following:

three bananas.

As you might understand, to me xmas merely means an opportunity to get away from school and go home to my parents and leech food from them for a couple of weeks..

/Mikael (who has roughly $1.5 in his pocket, all of which will go to bus fare in a couple of hours.)
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

So it's alright (3.85 / 14) (#29)
by Anatta on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:12:36 AM EST

for you to go to purchase your super Lord Of The Rings DVD with the extra scenes and all the bonus nonsense -- something that makes you happy, but it's not ok for people to purchase their XYZ -- something that makes them happy?

Who makes you the arbiter of what is reasonable consumption and what is overconsumption?

You criticize those who purchase SUVs as being so evil, but yet you also mention that you like to buy electronics stuff, computer stuff, etc. If you were to ask the average SUV driver whether they felt that you really needed your GeForce 4, your 19" monitor, your PDA with the color screen, or your progressive scan DVD player and surround system, do you think they'd say that you really need that stuff? It is quite possible that they would not see the value in it, in the same way you don't see the value in their SUV. Given the harmful chemicals and materials that went into producing much of the stuff you seem to enjoy, I don't see that you have much moral high ground in this discussion.

Perhaps we should all work on trying to improve ourselves, rather than complaining that others are acting improperly or not doing well enough.


My Music

Nice stuff (2.00 / 4) (#37)
by local roger on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:35:17 AM EST

Can I borrow it?

TIA

On the bloody morning after / One tin soldier rides away. -- Joan Baez
[ Parent ]

It's amazing! (5.00 / 12) (#47)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:10:58 AM EST

Most people find the thought of criticizing themselves so completely alien, that they cannot even imaging someone else doing it.

The guy had something of an epiphany that night, seeing what consumerism does to people, he started to question the validity of it as a societal lynchpin. He then owned up to being a part of the problem instead of part of the solution. He started to question his own personal philosphies and encouraged others to do the same.

You do not need a moral high ground to start to change things for the better, in fact, if you had such a position, you would hardly need improving at all, now, would you? Why don't you stop trying make yourself feel better by ripping into others.

[ Parent ]
That's not what I meant... (4.87 / 8) (#63)
by tarpy on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:49:10 AM EST

Who makes you the arbiter of what is reasonable consumption and what is overconsumption?

I certainly don't hold myself out as a person who is qualified to judge what is reasonable and what is not, except in my own life.

Do I over-consume? Of course.

Am I claiming high moral ground? No.

All I'm trying to say is that it seems to me that this culture I'm a part of seems to not be working...and yes, I am part of the problem...I know it.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Making You Happy, Making Them Happy (4.75 / 4) (#102)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:04:06 PM EST

So it's alright for you to go to purchase your super Lord Of The Rings DVD with the extra scenes and all the bonus nonsense -- something that makes you happy, but it's not ok for people to purchase their XYZ -- something that makes them happy?

I thought the whole point of the story was the author's realization that giving in to his natural impulse to acquire was not actually making him happy. The author suspected that many of the shoppers around him were in the same predicament, many of them much more deeply than he was, even.

This is probably one of the least judgmental editorials on this hoary old Christmas subject I've read - I'm surprised anyone would take such offense.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

Attention walmart shoppers... (3.66 / 3) (#42)
by Elkor on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:51:25 AM EST

I have determined that the only "decent" time to shop at Wal-Mart (which Target is trying to overtake) is at 7:30am-8:30am on a weekday.

I've been in there at 4am on a Saturday and seen loads of people. But weekday mornings are, for whatever reason, barren.

Similarly, I took a day of vacation (we have a use or lose policy at work) and did most of my shopping then, after I woke up from seeing the midnight premier of Two Towers.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Indeed (4.00 / 4) (#57)
by jmzero on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:37:07 AM EST

Nobody goes to Walmart anymore - too crowded.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Yogi Berra! (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by Kyle on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 12:08:01 PM EST

We've got a Plagiarism article in the queue, and you're ripping off quotes from Yogi Berra.

[ Parent ]

Well... (3.50 / 2) (#103)
by jmzero on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 01:28:11 PM EST

I thought that quote was common enough to be beyond the reasonable expectation of saying who it's from. Similarly, I don't feel the need to cite anyone when I say "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings" or "IN SOVIET RUSSIA...".
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Sometimes (2.40 / 5) (#45)
by krek on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 09:59:33 AM EST

I think that Regan must have picked up 'A Brave New World' and come out of reading it with a head full of ideas on 'improving' our lives. Now, personally, after reading that book, I was slightly depressed, it was just too frighteningly close to reality. Regan must have read this book and jumped up and yelled, "Eureka! I've got it!".

Homework assignment: read 'A Brave New World'.

My Experience and Some Quotes (4.25 / 8) (#62)
by mberteig on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 10:48:01 AM EST

I just recently have moved and my business is leasing for me a second appartment near to where I work (I commute from Toronto to Jersey City by plane every week). As a result, I've been buying things - lots of things. Nevertheless, despite the "sales", my apartment in Jersey City is nearly bare and I think it will stay that way. I don't want to accumulate more stuff...

To me it is so self-evident that our consumer society is dangerous. At the very least, we can see that we damage the environment, and ignore the blatant obvious plight of the extremely poor in our midst (except maybe once or twice a year when generosity is sanctioned by the marketing departments). If you live in a major urban center in the US, Canada, Mexico etc. you daily walk by homeless people who for whatever reason are unhealthy and obviously suffering. Consumerism has hardened our hearts. How can that be good!?

The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.
(Gleanings LXI - Baha'u'llah)

O ye peoples of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity is following you, and that grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not the deeds ye have committed have been blotted from My sight. By My beauty! All your doings hath My pen graven with open characters upon tablets of chrysolite.
(Gleanings CIV - Baha'u'llah)

O BOND SLAVE OF THE WORLD! Many a dawn hath the breeze of My loving-kindness wafted over thee and found thee upon the bed of heedlessness fast asleep. Bewailing then thy plight it returned whence it came.
(Hidden Words, Persian #30 - Baha'u'llah)

O CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.
(Hidden Words, Persian #49 - Baha'u'llah)

Thanks for writing this article. I hope that it makes it onto the front page.




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
re: the appointed hour (3.00 / 1) (#152)
by mreardon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:18:06 AM EST

...and when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.
IMHO, this appointed hour is very near indeed. It will be the inevitable collapse of the stock markets (something that has already begun).



[ Parent ]

You sound like the kind of person (1.45 / 11) (#86)
by pepperpusher on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:51:53 AM EST

who would shit less in order to eat less. Get educated, get a better job, contribute more and get a nice salary that enables you to buy more expensive things. Go to africa if you'd like to consume just 5% instead of 75%. Right now you connected to the internet, in the US probably, bitchin and preachin but not living by your own ideas...

tu quoque... (4.00 / 1) (#126)
by Mox on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:28:27 PM EST

The fact that he doesn't live up to what he believes does not discredit said beliefs, however your argument is made worthless by committing this fallacy.

[ Parent ]
-1, Too many articles to vote on (n/t) (1.50 / 6) (#110)
by buck on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 04:19:47 PM EST


-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
Jennifer Lopez (4.71 / 7) (#114)
by redwolfb14 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:43:55 PM EST

Was never poor by any stretch of the imagination. Infact that song is such a farce it's unbelivable. Ms. Lopez is NOT from the Block shes from a house in a affluent part of the Bronx. Same thing goes for P. Diddy aka Puff Daddy.

Well that is unless you consider being from the block or "around the way" meaning you lived in a nice house and didn't have much to worry about.

An example of someone that has "made it" or who is/was wealthy would be Notorious BIG or Jay-Z etc etc. Not Jennifer and not Puff Daddy and to  be honest I can't think of anyone that  says "I'm still from the block" actually coming from "the block".

Except for that incorrect part; +1
Say what you want because I already have.

The Fresh Prince, dude! (4.00 / 2) (#143)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:58:34 AM EST

Say what you will about his "musical" qualities or acting abilities, but I have to say that Will Smith is probably one of the bigger rags-to-riches stories to happen within the last two decades. Poor kid from the bad part of Philly, drops an education in MIT to rap, a few years later and bada-bing-bada-boom he's commanding $20m per film.

And to be quite frank, if I had to choose, I think I'd rather have the Prince than Biggie or Jay-Z as my surrogate kid's role model. I mean, seriously - wouldn't you?
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

No and no (4.33 / 3) (#171)
by redwolfb14 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 11:29:36 AM EST

Will Smith isn't from the block either, he's from a middle class family. His father owned a refrigeration company, thats not poor or from the block. You're comparing apples and oranges. For instance Jay-Z grew up in Marcy or what is known as The Marcy projects in Brooklyn which is definitely bonafide from the block. Notorious BIG grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant; again, definitely from the block (even though him, spike lee and others have funded projects that are making the place the SohO of Brooklyn; infact Spike Lee lives down the street). Now both places aren't that far from each other and both places are being turned from ghetto's into classy neighborhoods. Infact the value of a 2 family brownstone in Brooklyn is easily worth 800,000 grand in Bedstuy. Will Smitth, Jlo, Pdiddy haven't done much if anything for their own neighborhoods because there is no sense of community because they aren't from the block; there is no one for them to help in their areas. Anyway i'm getting off topic, the point is that there are many people who are from the block that can really say they are from Rag's to Riches. If Jlo, Pdiddiy, Will Smith didn't rap,perform,sing or whatever they would probably be doing something else working, trying to rap or perform or sing, or managing a company or whatever much like the rest of us. If JayZ, Notorious BIG, or whoever from the block didn't rap, perform, sing they would probably be in jail or dead. Worst is when you make it and still die eg: big.

As for Will Smith being a role model for kids and all that; sure why not, however I wouldn't rule out Jay-Z or Big or whatever their music is one thing, if you listen to it most of it says fuck white people, recording executives , and prissy white bitches, fuck stupid hating black dudes, life stories etc etc, if you listen to that  h to izzo shit you'll hear JayZ blast white america and ask for reparations and tells the RIAA to fuck off etc etc. If they were lying that would be one thing but I find that people take aversion to the truth when it's presented to them in a raw uncut fashion. The odd thing to me is that the people buying this stuff in large quantities aren't black, which leads me to believe that either white people aren't listening to what is being said or that racial relations will eventually get better than they are, or finally that white people just like the beat.

Will Smith is more the proverbial entertainer; JayZ, Big, Wutang and others actually have something to say every now and then. Personally i'd rather someone with something to say be a role model, not that there is anything wrong with Will Smith because he says stuff too it's just not as raw and uncut as the others, hopefully my kid is able to discern as I am, the difference. Between Will Smith and lets say Jay Z If you listen carefully they both are saying important things, it's the way that they say them in this case that makes the difference. However the correlation was made, Jay-Z from the block, Will Smith; not.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

self hating kids improves race relations? (3.00 / 2) (#187)
by Godel on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:25:15 PM EST

The odd thing to me is that the people buying this stuff in large quantities aren't black, which leads me to believe that either white people aren't listening to what is being said or that racial relations will eventually get better than they are

Hardly, the fact is that the public school system essentially teaches white children to hate themselves and their culture. Its similar to what the spanish missionaries did to native american children in missions, they told them they were evil, their parents were evil, their culture was evil, etc. So you raised a whole generation that was driftless, with no identity, and was consumed with a pathological self-hatred.

I mean think about it, if we sent black kids to school and every day, all the teachers did was go around telling them how evil/stupid/worthless they are, how evil/stupid/worthless their parents are, how evil their country is, how evil their ancestors were, you'd by committing child abuse, twisting the minds of innocent children with self hatred.

The same thing is happening today with white kids by the educational establishment. I know because I've been there and seen these classes. I've been told that I'm part of the "oppressor class" even though I was rejected from the school of my choice because of my race, while my mexican friend with lower SAT, lower GPA, and less activities got in. Kind of funny how the intellectual "elites" have figured out the only way to get away from racism is to promote hatred for particular races/cultures and to demand government mandated discrimination against certain groups. These elites, in their zeal to fight the evils commited by certain people in the past have taken out their anger on a generation of innocent defenseless children.

Why is it ok to have a Congressional Black Caucus that discriminates against whites? Did you know a white congressman tried to join and was rejected? Could you imagine the furor if there was a Congressional White Caucus of old white guys who refused to let blacks in? Can you imagine if there was a National Association for the Advancement of White People, an organization dedicated to advancing the interests of one race at the expense of all others? Why that's horribly racist isnt it? Only if you're white apparently, I havn't heard any complaints about the NAACP.

[ Parent ]

You must be young (5.00 / 1) (#224)
by redwolfb14 on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 12:47:42 PM EST

At least you sound that way and thats not an insult or anything. You're entited to your opinion really and so long as you can actually back it up with fact then fine.

The problem is this simply, if you have the upper hand the scrutiny of your actions and that of your childrens actions will be greater because they already have the upper hand. See, since your white it is assumed that you won't have to deal with discrimination in ways that Mexican, Black, Chinese, Whatever people will have to deal with it during life and for the most part that is entirely correct. There is a difference between a mexican/black/yellow/etc looking for a job and a white person looking for a job and it's been proven time and time again. Now i'm sure there is a discrimination against whites from groups who can now discriminate but there has always been discrimination from whites against other groups and because of that these "groups" whether it be the Congressional Black Caucus or whatever had to be made to protect the interest of lets say; black people. Sucks right? Yeah it does suck that people have to be seperated into groups but "The White man was/is the oppressor" to many.

Why did the Mexican get into the school? Well you might have better grades but based on the blind of scale of discrimination and out of the number of mexicans who applied to that school his gpa was probably higher than most of the rest. You happen to be white so just because your GPA is higher doesn't mean you get in.. infact it avg's out between you and the mexican dude. Is this stupid? I think so.. Does it need to exist? Well as of late you've seen the leader of the Republican Party, The Speaker of the House say comments that promote segregation whether he meant to or not. It's not the first time he's said it and his record speaks for itself. If you don't think it needs to exist then you'd be silly. As for whites having a group of their own many people will tell you they already do. When was the last time you saw a black, mexican, chinese, whatever president? How many people in Congress with seats are black, mexican, chinese, whatever? Does it correlate with the color of our nation today demopgrahics wise? Answer those questions and you'll be able to understand better.

What it boils down to is this, when you fuck up you have to pay. General society and mostly any minority around the world will tell you very simply that it's not equal between them and a white person. With a general stigma like that these systems need to be in place even if in broken fashion. If you want to do something about it understand the system and then do something to change it. It sounds to me like you harbor anger and the people you should be angry at are the people with your skin color who committed the acts of stupidity because you are paying for the "sins of your father"; someone has to be held accountable, so instead of being angry. Understand the situation, disagree with it, go to another school and take the little bit of discrimination that you feel and amplify it by 20 and thats what the minority next to you has felt his whole life. Sucks doesn't it? As I will do make sure your kids know that discrimination is wrong even if it happens to them. To judge a man based on his character, virtue and work ethic rather than his skin color. I can't speak for black people or mexican people or minority people as a whole cause a man is a man and you must judge him on the above and thats the only way to fix the problem.
Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Wow (none / 0) (#236)
by Godel on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 04:18:16 PM EST

Yeah it does suck that people have to be seperated into groups but "The White man was/is the oppressor" to many.

So all white people have to be grouped together and discriminated against because of the actions of a few? Do you even realize how racist this is?

It sounds to me like you harbor anger and the people you should be angry at are the people with your skin color who committed the acts of stupidity because you are paying for the "sins of your father"; someone has to be held accountable, so instead of being angry. Understand the situation, disagree with it, go to another school and take the little bit of discrimination that you feel and amplify it by 20 and thats what the minority next to you has felt his whole life. Sucks doesn't it?

Its pretty sad that you don't even realize the blatant racism in your post. Why do I need to be held accountable for other people's actions just because I share the same skin color? Isn't that racist? Now you repeat this ridiculous canard about a minority feeling 20 times the discrmination I do. That's crap. There is only one group that suffers SYSTEMATIC MANDATORY LEGAL discrimination in the US and that is whites. Mexican and Black kids are not being passed over for education by less qualified white kids.

Why did the Mexican get into the school? Well you might have better grades but based on the blind of scale of discrimination and out of the number of mexicans who applied to that school his gpa was probably higher than most of the rest.

Huh, why does his GPA matter compared to the rest of the Mexicans who applied? Aren't people supposed to compete on an equal footing with everyone without racial discrimination?

Your post has alot of racist bigoted anti-white rhetoric. I'm an oppressor? Screw you Jerk. Its a sad commentary that such vicious racism/discrimination is tolerated in our society as long as it's directed towards an unpopular group (whites)

[ Parent ]

Sucks (none / 0) (#238)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 09:41:03 PM EST

So all white people have to be grouped together and discriminated against because of the actions of a few? Do you even realize how racist this is?

No, and they aren't. I never said that so don't make implications. I said what the truth is, if you don't like it tough shit; that's not my problem. It's the truth

Its pretty sad that you don't even realize the blatant racism in your post. Why do I need to be held accountable for other people's actions just because I share the same skin color? Isn't that racist? Now you repeat this ridiculous canard about a minority feeling 20 times the discrmination I do. That's crap. There is only one group that suffers SYSTEMATIC MANDATORY LEGAL discrimination in the US and that is whites. Mexican and Black kids are not being passed over for education by less qualified white kids.

It's not racist it's true, you personally don't have to be crucified or put on a cross or anything but if you actually read what I posted you would see why just with your skin color you haven't seen half or even a quarter of someone with darker tint has. As for the only group being legally discriminated being white is a silly comment. If it's legal to discriminate against whites for 200 yrs it's been legal to discriminate against minorities, people with your skin color took the land from the indians, killed them off, ran slavery and generally just killed alot of people. Hell 40 yrs ago if you werent of your skin color you could be hung. Infact shit I don't even know if I'd be posting this. Heh my post isn't racist or bigoted I have nothing against white people as a majority. Personally I'm not racist and don't harbor any illwill I don't even want any reparations but I do want a fair chance and I wouldn't have one if affirmative action wasn't there. Like I said someone has to pay for the acts commited. You can either choose to be ignorant and think that oh yeah there is no discrimination or anything in america and it's only against whites blah blah or you can understand that providing programs like affirmative action is helping to offset discrimination in America. Infact if you go anywhere else in the world they will tell you, even today if you ask, that America is the most racist and discriminatory place in the world and they would be correct. Some people might even say there is still segregation in the US.. I mean just walk into any highschool and you'll see it.

Again like I said before, I'm not racist or bigotted and even from something in the queue on k5 today (something about ebonics) I can see there is a ways to go. Call me whatever you want I don't care if it was vicious or racist I could see the anger but it's not. I've only spoken the truth if you want to change the views of whites or want their truly to be a level playing field you can step up to plate as have others and practiced that behavior. For me I judge people on their actions; I don't see white, black, yellow, or whatever. I see what this person can do for me if it's regarding a job or their skillsets or their actions or whatever. However I don't judge a person based on their color and if you do the same then someday, not today, not tomorrow maybe not even in 2 yrs or 5 yrs or whatever but someday we will be able to get rid of affirmative action and the likes but with people like you it'll always be split. Think of it as you doing your part to say look, people with my skin color fucked up.. I know I'm unpopular when it comes to things like fairness because of it, however that isn't me. Teach the samething to your kids if you ever have any, or to your friends. Even if it changes one persons outlook on people you've done enough. With that I'm done with this topic I feel like i'm always talking about race on k5.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Sucks (none / 0) (#239)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 09:43:14 PM EST

So all white people have to be grouped together and discriminated against because of the actions of a few? Do you even realize how racist this is?

No, and they aren't. I never said that so don't make implications. I said what the truth is, if you don't like it tough shit; that's not my problem. It's the truth

Its pretty sad that you don't even realize the blatant racism in your post. Why do I need to be held accountable for other people's actions just because I share the same skin color? Isn't that racist? Now you repeat this ridiculous canard about a minority feeling 20 times the discrmination I do. That's crap. There is only one group that suffers SYSTEMATIC MANDATORY LEGAL discrimination in the US and that is whites. Mexican and Black kids are not being passed over for education by less qualified white kids.

It's not racist it's true, you personally don't have to be crucified or put on a cross or anything but if you actually read what I posted you would see why just with your skin color you haven't seen half or even a quarter of someone with darker tint has. As for the only group being legally discriminated being white is a silly comment. If it's legal to discriminate against whites for 200 yrs it's been legal to discriminate against minorities, people with your skin color took the land from the indians, killed them off, ran slavery and generally just killed alot of people. Hell 40 yrs ago if you werent of your skin color you could be hung. Infact shit I don't even know if I'd be posting this. Heh my post isn't racist or bigoted I have nothing against white people as a majority. Personally I'm not racist and don't harbor any illwill I don't even want any reparations but I do want a fair chance and I wouldn't have one if affirmative action wasn't there. Like I said someone has to pay for the acts commited. You can either choose to be ignorant and think that oh yeah there is no discrimination or anything in america and it's only against whites blah blah or you can understand that providing programs like affirmative action is helping to offset discrimination in America. Infact if you go anywhere else in the world they will tell you, even today if you ask, that America is the most racist and discriminatory place in the world and they would be correct. Some people might even say there is still segregation in the US.. I mean just walk into any highschool and you'll see it.

Again like I said before, I'm not racist or bigotted and even from something in the queue on k5 today (something about ebonics) I can see there is a ways to go. Call me whatever you want I don't care if it was vicious or racist I could see the anger but it's not. I've only spoken the truth if you want to change the views of whites or want their truly to be a level playing field you can step up to plate as have others and practiced that behavior. For me I judge people on their actions; I don't see white, black, yellow, or whatever. I see what this person can do for me if it's regarding a job or their skillsets or their actions or whatever. However I don't judge a person based on their color and if you do the same then someday, not today, not tomorrow maybe not even in 2 yrs or 5 yrs or whatever but someday we will be able to get rid of affirmative action and the likes but with people like you it'll always be split. Think of it as you doing your part to say look, people with my skin color fucked up.. I know I'm unpopular when it comes to things like fairness because of it, however that isn't me. Teach the samething to your kids if you ever have any, or to your friends. Even if it changes one persons outlook on people you've done enough. With that I'm done with this topic I feel like i'm always talking about race on k5.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Your knowledge of hip-hop astounds me. (none / 0) (#200)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 12:52:29 AM EST

And it also frightens me a little. Nevertheless, I bow to it.

Since you seem to a big fan of the "rap music," might I recommend some Pitchfork favorites, such as Antipop Consortium, Roots Manuva, Cannibal Ox, and, of course, the indomitable Kool Keith? That "shizzit be da bomb, dawg."
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

I'll check them out (none / 0) (#225)
by redwolfb14 on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 01:05:29 PM EST

and I don't talk like that ;)
Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, freakin' hilarious... (4.00 / 2) (#161)
by Kintanon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 09:55:32 AM EST

Kid Rock and Eminem were both Middle Class suburban kids too. And though I like the music of both of them for different reasons I think it's kind of silly how they insist on claiming they grew up in trailer parks and shit.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

target audience (none / 0) (#175)
by eudas on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:46:51 PM EST

if it's one thing they all know how to do, is pander to their target audience.

eudas
"Nothing is on fire, but the day is still young" -- Phil the Canuck
[ Parent ]

Absolutely (none / 0) (#182)
by Kintanon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:56:53 PM EST

I'll be the first to admit it. They push all the right buttons in my psyche. I don't like ALL of their stuff. But I like enough of it that I know they must be doing a pretty good job one way or the other.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Fuller... (4.00 / 2) (#128)
by k31 on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:34:15 PM EST

Apparently, that dead guy, Buckminister Fuller, promoted sustainable development and omniprosperity, based on non-zero-sum economic models.

It appears that no-one listened to him, however.


Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....

Impulse Buying vs. Roll Your Own (5.00 / 9) (#129)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 11:45:30 PM EST

The modern shopping experience is carefully designed to facilitate and encourage impulsive purchases, from the 2-for-one 24 pack of Ultra Downy bathroom tissue to the Dancing Santa automation that would just look so cute in the front hall. There is also an unrelenting message to buy new, shiny, pure, untouched things, as if unwrapping every Xmas present was akin to despoiling a temple virgin.

This is in direct contradiction to the way my parents grew up - forced, out of economic nessessity and a deep unwillingness to burden themselves with debt, to often buy second-hand, and to plan and save for large-ticket items.

I like things. Nice things. But I'll be damned if I'm going to buy in to every new trend. I won my TV - if I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have one. I don't own a car, and use public transit in combination with walking to get everywhere. I don't own a DVD player, and have no plans to. My house is sparsely furinshed in what I like to call 'Spartan chic'.

Sure, this could be solved with a $1000 run to Ikea. And then my house could look like millions of others across the Western world, decorated with white pine furniture in which my major creative effort was placing bolts.

A little over a year ago I decided that I was going to build my own furniture, from scratch. In woodworking classes, taken once a week, I have so far built a blanket box, a bed, and an endtable. I am currently working on a chest of drawers, to be followed by an armoire and bookshelves.

All of these projects have been built at a cost far less than store-bought items. I can be certain of their quality because I know every joint, every seam in them. I've come to appreciate wood - its qualities, the growth of natural timber - through making them. And it has meant that I've been able to extend my furniture purchases over a long period of time - since it takes me on the order of several months per project - rather than going deep into debt with one overnight splurge at an Ethan Allen store.

My method of doing things has required patience and dedication. But its rewards - pride of accomplishment, the joy of learning - cannot be beaten. It is my intention to make presents for my family next year in the same vein. Finally, my slow accumulation of furniture crafted by my own hands has also given me the ability to look hard at what I want, and decide whether it is an impulse buy, or something I truly need. And if I need it, then I should spend the time determining exactly what it is I want, and whether it is worthwhile making it myself.

I am not suggesting that every last person be self-sufficent. Capitalism and our networked economy grew because people specialised in tasks. But I do believe that the rampant consumer culture we breathe in and out each day has become very effective in infecting us with the pervasive lie that we cannot do things for ourselves, that things - santised, regulated, shiny new things - must be constantly provided to us. We are projected into beings helpless as a newborn, struggling to reach a swelling consumer teat. There are things that we cannot easily make ourselves - cars, for instance. But even then, alternatives exist to the latest seduction rolling out of Detroit.

-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."

Cool (3.00 / 1) (#136)
by skim123 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 02:20:21 AM EST

I won my TV - if I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have one. I don't own a car, and use public transit in combination with walking to get everywhere. I don't own a DVD player, and have no plans to.
The secret is to befriend someone who likes shiney new stuff. Then, when they want to get a shiney new DVD when their old one works (well, not all the time, but 95% of the time), they give you their old one. That's the only reason I have a DVD player. :-) (Thanks Dave!)

A little over a year ago I decided that I was going to build my own furniture, from scratch.
That is so cool, I wish I had the space to tackle such projects. But when you live in a 1,100 square foot condo it's hard to have a workbench and powertools. :-)

An idea for inexpensive art that I would like to try out soon. Printing out some of the cuter pictures from explodingdog.com on nice, glossy, photo-quality paper from a nice color laser printer, and then framing them. The cost is only the frame, which you can get nice looking ones at Target for $5-$15. Plus it would look trendy, methinks.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
the funny thing is (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:23:29 AM EST

You say it cost you less to build your own furniture. But how much do you make per an hour? And how many hours did it cost you to make that bed? Now is it cheaper?
124
[ Parent ]
how many hours did it cost you... (4.00 / 1) (#151)
by B M on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:10:36 AM EST

The funny thing is that you see the imput of time as a cost. Have you ever made something with your own hands from scratch?

The time is a joy when you drop into the zone and forget about all the rest. You spend those extra hours to get it right as you know you will be looking at it for a long time.

No one else ever notices the bad spots but you do.

[ Parent ]

I know... (4.00 / 1) (#153)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:22:54 AM EST

Things like that really are very important. If I could build my guitars I would, and I'd probally enjoy it very much. Crafting anything summons a sort of pride and happiness.
But becuase you brought price into it, I could only assume that part of the reason you were building your own furniture was to save money and thought it would be apt to point out that time is money, and sometimes things are cheaper to buy then to make.
For example, if you could do what you specilize in for a living at $10 a hour, and your bed took you forty hours to build, it would in fact be just as frugal for you to buy a $400 bed. In fact more so becuase you wouldn't have to buy the equipment, wood, and pay for classes.

But other then that, making your own stuff is great.
124
[ Parent ]

*WRONG*! (4.00 / 1) (#160)
by Kintanon on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 09:51:33 AM EST

You sir, are fundamentally mistaken and here is why.
You assume that all of the hours spent not working on crafting the item would be spent working for money somewhere else. But if you are working on crafting the item after hours at home, as a hobby, instead of say.... watching tv then you are indeed saving money and enjoying yourself.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

no (none / 0) (#230)
by auraslip on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 01:28:34 AM EST

I assume all hours spent not crafting would be spent working for money. I believe your misconception lies in the fact that you think your hours at home not a your "day job" are hours in which you can make no money. But these hours do in fact count for something, and you can be doing something to put a monetary value on them.
I will admit that you are enjoying your self, however I do not think it is cheaper to build your own table. You could easily save up enough money to buy a new table by doing neghibor hood chores or something in the time it would take you to build one.

So yes.... Building is enjoyable, and maybe if you get quick about building it you can make them for cheaper then you can buy it. Of course what I completley forgot of untill now is that the price tag you put on these tables, because of the emotion and love you put into them, is so high that their is no way you could ever "pay" for them. So really It is cheaper for you...
124
[ Parent ]

Work!=waste (4.66 / 3) (#164)
by JonesBoy on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:43:38 AM EST

I have to agree with the above.   Time spent doing self-motivated work is never vasted time, or even work (in the traditional sense).

Have you ever noticed that most people nowadays don't have a hobby?   Ask people what they do for fun, and how much time they spend doing it, and they will usually tell you that they don't have time for a hobby.   Ask the same person what happened on CSI, and Friends, and you will get a play by play of every episode for the last season.

In the US, there is a growing lack of activity, motivation, and creativity.   This in turn has led us to seek gratafication via shallow activities.   Our existance is validated through TV characters, in which we project ourselves into for a simulated active, healthy social life.   TV marketing, driven by capitalism, has told us that having "stuff" will enrich our lives.   Time=money, money buys "stuff", and the "stuff" describes who we are.

Its a lie.

You are the sum of all your actions, not a monetary automaton.   When the previous poster was building his furnature, he was partaking in active recreation; specifically one in which he could better himself, his environment, and have something to pass on to others.   He was NOT burning precious time better spent in front of the TV, nor time in which he should have been at work.   He is not $10/hour.   He is a potentially useful human being putting his abilities to good use.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0) (#201)
by William H Gates on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 01:11:03 AM EST

Have you ever noticed that most people nowadays don't have a hobby?

I would encourage the hobby-less masses to start programming BASIC as a hobby. Who knows where it may lead?

---------------------------
Where do you want to go today?
[ Parent ]

Making Christmas presents.... (4.00 / 1) (#190)
by unDees on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:47:13 PM EST

It is my intention to make presents for my family next year in the same vein.

That's awesome. I've been doing something like that myself the past year or two, albeit on a much, much smaller scale than a piece of furniture. I'm cooking or otherwise making almost all my gifts this year (I'm buying one and making the rest). Some of the gifts are even prepared with stuff from my garden, which I hope people will appreciate as much as they would a $30 DVD.

Capitalism and our networked economy grew because people specialised in tasks.

Indeed--there's a lot of merit in my not having to know how to smelt ore, hammer it into a shovel shape (and where'd I get the hammer from?) so I can dig the holes to grow every single thing I eat, and so on. I guess it gets out of hand when we're buying things that we not only don't need, but don't even want. Ever made a purchase and wince while you thought, "Now why did I buy that?" I know I have.

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

A few follow-up points... (none / 0) (#202)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 01:47:30 AM EST

In response to auraslip's comment:

You say it cost you less to build your own furniture. But how much do you make per an hour? And how many hours did it cost you to make that bed? Now is it cheaper?

You're presuming that every waking hour must be spent working. By that rationale I should invest in No-Doz, sleep as little as possible, and work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Of course, that's ridiculous. Outside of working hours, my own time is literally free to do with as I wish. No economic calculation makes sense. Do you think of the potential dollars you could be earning while you're playing Counter-Strike?

A better argument might have been "Isn't time with your family more valuable on an emotional basis?" In my case, however, I have no family to take time away from.

(An aside - and even if I did value my time in such a fashion - at, let's say, $10 an hour (which I'll admit is lowballing, but let's use the figure for the sake of argument), I'd still be saving money compared to buying equivalent furniture at retail.

For those of you that may be interested in following a similar course, I'd recommend looking for a woodworker's co-operative, or a night school class. I use the former - I basically pay for materials and the use of shop, tools, and storage space, together with a little of the instructor's time every evening. I have no workshop of my own, yet, although I do plan to create one.



-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
where do you live? (none / 0) (#219)
by nebben123 on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 05:19:01 AM EST

just wondering... sounds nice to have a woodworking co-op and public transit.

ben

[ Parent ]

Calgary, Alberta, Canada... (NT) (none / 0) (#245)
by Bora Horza Gobuchol on Tue Dec 24, 2002 at 07:21:35 PM EST


-- "Don't criticise. Create a better alternative."
[ Parent ]
www.adbusters.org (3.33 / 3) (#142)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 03:26:24 AM EST

for all you anti-consumerism/anti-theevilsofcapitilism needs.
124
Perspective of one libertarian (3.66 / 6) (#148)
by DigDug on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:44:33 AM EST

As a libertarian, what you're thinking is perfectly reasonable. There are many libertarians out there, including myself, who are concerned about the environment. Big government does not protect the environment -- it causes great damage to it.
  • Most of the pollution in the U.S. occurs on government land, either by government structures themselves, or by businesses to whom the land is leased. While businesses are sometimes fined a laughable amount by the Environment Pimpin' Agency, the EPA has no authority over other government agencies at all.
  • The artificial reduction of oil prices causes people to care less about how economical their car is. (Let's face it, as of today, many more people will be interested in fuel efficient cars or mass transit because of high gas prices than because of concerns for the environment.)
  • Subsidizing of cars and airplanes hides the true costs of cars. This also makes other forms of transit less attractive to enterpreneurs, leaving large American cities with sub-standard, government-operated mass transit, and smaller cities with no transit at all.
Just a few things off the top of my head...

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

Libertarian bullshit (1.50 / 4) (#165)
by dirtmerchant on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 10:46:16 AM EST

You libertarians are so funny.
Just a few things off the top of my head...
Actually I think the source of this inane comment was a little further south.
Most of the pollution in the U.S. occurs on government land, either by government structures themselves, or by businesses to whom the land is leased. While businesses are sometimes fined a laughable amount by the Environment Pimpin' Agency, the EPA has no authority over other government agencies at all.
Are you trying to form a cohesive thought with this one? Hows about we try backing up statements with evidence. The EPA is flawed in only one manner, it hasn't the power to bankrupt a company (or government organization) that flouts the laws. The EPA needs the ability to slap on fines and penalties equal to the ecological damage done by polluters (whoever they are). This includes continuous exponential fines, jail time (I'm talking pound-me-in-the-ass prison here) and dissolution of company assets.
The artificial reduction of oil prices causes people to care less about how economical their car is. (Let's face it, as of today, many more people will be interested in fuel efficient cars or mass transit because of high gas prices than because of concerns for the environment.)
Sorry dawg, more libertarian ignorance here. OPEC controls the oil market. OPEC is an unelected company. The government works for them.
Subsidizing of cars and airplanes hides the true costs of cars. This also makes other forms of transit less attractive to enterpreneurs, leaving large American cities with sub-standard, government-operated mass transit, and smaller cities with no transit at all.
And your solution is what? I've got an idea, how's about we offer huge tax incentives to those who chose to use public transportation, carpool, etc. Those who can't live without the gas-guzzling SUVs get to pay for everyone else. Anyone who won't use a more ecologically responsible method gets a huge tax hike.

Libertarian n: Anarchist that wants police protection from their slaves.


-- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
[ Parent ]
here's the evidence you asked for (5.00 / 2) (#196)
by Sleepy In Seattle on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 07:36:45 PM EST

I can't speak for the rest of the country, but here in the Puget Sound area, 7 of the 10 most frequent illegal polluters are indeed government facilities. (source) The U.S. military is a particularly prolific contributor, apparently: "The Navy and the Army created 13 of the 31 sites in the region polluted enough to make the nation's Superfund cleanup list." (source)

As for this claim by the original poster:
The artificial reduction of oil prices causes people to care less about how economical their car is.

I'd phrase that somewhat differently but still reach approximately the same conclusion. That is, the cost of gasoline in the U.S. does not adequately account for the externalities that its consumption imposes. It's not so much that oil prices are artificially reduced as that we're not paying what it "really" costs (which arguably ought to include a fraction of the country's military budget, given how much money we spend securing our oil supplies).

[ Parent ]

Then why Libertarianism? (none / 0) (#254)
by Nelziq on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 09:02:01 PM EST

That is, the cost of gasoline in the U.S. does not adequately account for the externalities that its consumption imposes.

Why whould a free market solve this problem? Free markets can never resolve all externalities due to transaction and information costs. In order to have the most efficient markets, sometimes government intervention is required.

[ Parent ]

The cost of driving (none / 0) (#256)
by DigDug on Mon Dec 30, 2002 at 12:48:58 AM EST

It's not so much that oil prices are artificially reduced as that we're not paying what it "really" costs (which arguably ought to include a fraction of the country's military budget, given how much money we spend securing our oil supplies).
Here's a list of some of the financial costs I am bearing even though I do not drive. If I was not being robbed of this money, I could be paying more for better quality mass transit.
  • Military equipment and personnel that are used to coerce countries to sell us cheap oil, whether through threats, force, or replacement of the local government.
  • Highways and roads. Their construction, repair, and other maintenance. Bridges, traffic signals, road signs, cops, cruisers, overturned tractor trailer cleanups, etc.
  • Hospitalization and treatment of people injured in car accidents.
I am also paying with my health, safety, and happiness.

No government legislation will ever put an end to this. The only solution is to level the playing field by putting an end to the corrupt and rotten system that supports it.

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

[ Parent ]

EPA power and other points (none / 0) (#257)
by DigDug on Mon Dec 30, 2002 at 12:57:46 AM EST

The fact that the EPA has no power will never change.

The EPA does not have, and never will have power over corporations because the rest of the government leeches money from these same corporations; People with money will always bribe people with power, whether it is legal or not. Corporations will always get a slap on the wrist from the government. Corporations will always pollute land that they do not own, because they have no interest in retaining its value.

The EPA does not have, and never will have power over other government agencies, because it is part of the government itself, and most of the government is profiting from pollution.

OPEC controls the oil market. OPEC is an unelected company. The government works for them.
I don't have to add anything here.

As for transit and tax incentives, I believe that making every road a toll road (or funding roads only from car and truck registration fees), and thus shifting the burden from people who don't drive to those who do would be incentive enough. (In the end, I believe that private roads would be the best solution, but this is a step in the right direction -- user fees instead of pre-paying.)

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

[ Parent ]

Slavery (none / 0) (#258)
by DigDug on Mon Dec 30, 2002 at 12:59:31 AM EST

As for the slavery argument, it seems to me that libertarians are the only ones who do not wish to enslave others to further their goals.

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

[ Parent ]

by quality not junk. (4.00 / 4) (#150)
by caridon20 on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:02:48 AM EST

The way i see it ,it's not materealism that is the problem. It's consumerism.
My definitions Materialism = want to own stuff, consumerism = wants to get NEW stuff.
It is consumerism that have created todays market where items are of shody quality because no one uses them for very long.
But they are flashy and look COOL for a while

I am a materealist but of the type that wants quality. My stereo is 7 years old (it's the second stereo
of my life) and will last probably another 15-20 years.(shameles plug. I'ts a NAD )
I purchase old used furniture, and the house i look at bying is over 100 yaers old
(will take a whle to renovate)
All of these things are items where the developement is going so slow that there is little or NO
reason to get new stuff every year. SO lets NOT !!!

Only be a "Consumer" when there is a real movement forward in the industry (like for example cars)
The rest of the time purchase quality goods that will last a long time.
(like my tux. It is my late grandfathers, 80+ years old and in perfect condition)

/caridon

Dissent is NOT Treason Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
So cynical. . . (4.42 / 14) (#159)
by Fantastic Lad on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 08:48:03 AM EST

I took a trip to a big mall in the suburban wastes North of the city for the first time in a long while.

I was stunned. I seem to remember when you could actually find things at a mall. Holy shit.

The small private retailers are gone. It's all corporate nonsense. The psychological marketing research just oozes off the walls. . .

Virtually the entire mall had converted itself to the selling the knick-knacks. Cheesy stuff with little or no value or function. It feels like CNN; vapid and sparkly, and you keep watching in wonder, trying to catch the trick in the act, thinking to yourself, "How is it possible that so much air time can be filled with such an endless stream of fluff-o nothing? And yet, here it is! Empty Content as long as the eye can watch! The 7th fucking wonder. . !"

Among my favorite observations made during my trip to Mall-Land. . .

"The Just For Men Store" specializing in already-put-together model of cars, pre-fab sports memorabelia like miniature baseball bats stuck to paperweights, pictures of dogs playing poker and rude joke items with tits and stuff on them. Stupid shit like that. AND NOTHING ELSE!!! The stream of paying customers was endless.

"The Hats Off! Store" You guessed it! They sell nothing but baseball caps. (Which have a patented pre-formed plastic insert to make sure the duck-bill part is bent in the 'coolest' way possible. The stream of paying customers was also endless.

"The Science Discovery Story" where science is apparently limited to some nice picture books about volcanos and space-shuttles, 'Spy-tech' toys designed to allow kids to eavesdrop on and covertly moniter their friends and family, a rack of digital cameras, more of those already put together model cars, tee-shirts, coffee cups, novelty pens, and a bunch of other stupid over-priced pre-fab boring shit. FLUFF-O! --Please note that unlike such stores which existed when I was a kid, you could not in this store buy anything requiring glue or assembly, no rocket engines or chemistry sets. There were no stacks of balsa wood and copper stock. No torches, stone polishers, wood engravers, or remote controlled airplane kits. They didn't even have any fucking microscopes for goodness sake! --I tell you this: If I can't maim, burn or blow myself up with my purchase in a "science discovery" store, it then it ain't science. Just more fluff-o bullshit for pre-fab people.

The bookstores are no longer book stores! When the hell did that happen? I remember when bookstores had, you know. . , books? I remember when 12 inches of rack space contained from 10 to 20 books, spine-out. But now 12 inches of rack space shows only two books face out. And not just in the front of the store, but all the way to the back. --I'm sure it makes a great deal more sense to buy less product and place it in such a way as to ensure swift sales. And who wants to give people choice in what they read (and think)? That's just dangerous, as we all know.

Oh yeah. And don't even get me started on the lame-ass clothing stores which enable everybody to look like whatever is being sold on 'Friends' this week. If I seen another confused teenage kid walking around with that hunted, 'must look like a Speers clone to be accepted' expression, I'm going to throttle somebody.

Even the movie theaters were selling fluff-o garbage. An Austin Martin advert masquerading as a Bond film. A lousy looking Star Trek film with an evil 'X-Box green' glowing American Eagle as its logo. . , and the 'Two Towers' war propaganda flick, set in sharp contrast beside a bunch of other utterly forgettable fluff-o garbage flicks. Tell me that isn't mind-control supreme! (Oh yeah, sorry. That's just 'conspiracy' nonsense. Excuuuuuuse the fuck out of me for having a brain.)

All in all, it would have been much like taking a trip through hell, had I been there in earnest instead of walking around playing anthropologist trying to keep an emotional distance between myself and the dying species I was observing. And even then, I felt a little queasy. (In the food court, mostly, where "100% Pure Beef" is a company name, not a product.)

This Christmas, I'm giving people useful things, or things I made myself. And things which can maim, burn or blow you up if you happen to be a pre-fab person with a head full of fruit-loops instead of grey matter.

-Fantastic Lad

Are we taking crazy pills?? (3.00 / 1) (#169)
by A5triX on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 11:18:22 AM EST


Brendon M. Maragia
[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm just stupid. . . (4.00 / 1) (#181)
by spazebar on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 04:46:23 PM EST

ignorant, or both but how the hell is LOTR: The Two Towers war propaganda? Being the intelectual you credit yourself as being shouldn't you be proud someone is luring us morons to read a good book?

[ Parent ]
Isn't it obvious? (5.00 / 1) (#192)
by ghjm on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:52:01 PM EST

LOTR is about the defeat of seemingly insurmountable 'evil' forces by a small band of 'good' guys. But how do you tell the difference? Simple: 'evil' is always industrial, 'good' is always pastoral. LOTR is transparently a polemic against the final stages of the industrial revolution (e.g., mass production in factories). This makes it propaganda. Is it war propaganda? If so, which side does it support in which war? All I can say is, hobbits are obviously English and the central message best represented by Sam: the distilled essence of all the good and noble qualities of the South of England country farmer, always loyal to Frodo, lord of the local manor. The enemy is dehumanized as orcs (yes, yes, in the books they are "really" orcs - but whatever they may allegorically represent is certainly human); Sauron and particularly Saruman's major threat to the good guys is to consign them to lives as factory workers under /Metropolis/-style industrialism. Who threatened to do this to the English? Is it a coincidence that guttural consonants - similar to those found in the German language - form the basis of the language of Mordor?

-Graham

[ Parent ]

I take a much less detailed approach. . . (none / 0) (#206)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 09:57:41 AM EST

Your analysis is indeed very cool, but I tend to see the really effective messages as working somewhat differently.

I just answered somebody else's question with this same comment, so let me cut and paste myself. . .

1. Create a high profile, high production value, near-impossible-not-to-respect film which everybody simply must see and 'enjoy'. This gives the message a level of authority, the perception of which has a definite effect upon the viewer; it gets in around the limited roadblocks Joe-Average might have set up to prevent this kind of manipulation.

2. Make the film implant the message of Good guys v.s. Bad guys. Quite simply, the Orcs are the archetypal enemy. --The enemy in a well propagandized war is always sub-human. The good guys are trying to destroy the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, (the ring), which must under no circumstances be allowed to fall into the hands of Evil despots and their unwashed hoard. They must be fought by a coalition of the Good and more socially refined nations of the world. Sound familiar?

3. Make the protagonists people we can identify with; the small and well meaning Hobbits, who live in an eternal state of slight confusion with the world around them, but who trust implicitly the wizards and warriors and magical beings bearing them along. (Message: See? It's okay. Frodo and Sam are the same as you! You can take comfort in their ignorant method of dealing with life which can be summed up in short by; "Let Others Direct You; The Power Holders Know Best. Follow them.")

4. Make the film come out at the perfect time. Could this film possibly appear at a more pivotal moment in our unfolding history? Answer: No, actually, it could not.

5. Make the film's title a direct reminder of the initial instigator event. (9/11) --So bold a move that people refuse to even discuss it in rational circles. (Even here, where minds are far more open than on most discussion sites, somebody accused me of being on pills.) A real elephant in the living room, but unbelievably effective. The subconscious is particularly good at picking up on painfully obvious material of which everybody is in denial.

The coincidences begin to add up rather alarmingly, don't they? That's because they're not coincidences.

The fact of the matter is that all this stuff gets sent directly to the subconscious, the predominant driving force of our psyches whether you like it or not. --People may not realize it, but with the Two Towers film, their minds are quietly being suggested in a very firm manner to associate the feelings of love for Tolkien's work and the righteousness with which his characters travail with the Bush Reich's current efforts to invade Iraq. Even if all these coincidences were not done on purpose, the effect is the same. The "Two Towers" is an absolutely remarkable piece of mind-programming and social engineering.

"But how could such a thing be pulled off? It's impossible! Conspiracy! Conspiracy!"

Are you kidding me? Movies work to time-schedules which can be fixed years in advance. If you believe as I certainly do, that the 9/11 charade was planned and scripted, then what makes you think that the program organizers would stop there? The Jews own hollywood, and Zionists control the Jews, and the U.S. is playing the Zionists against the Arabs in an effort to kill all of them, Jews, Arabs and all.

But those are just the visible tools at hand. I tend to think that there are invisible and much more powerful tools available as well. Ones which allow you to set stuff like ths up many, mnay years in advance.

Most people have accepted that our reality is as limited an affair as it is made out to be by our schooling and the current scientific paradigm. --All of which is controlled by the powers which strive to constrict our thinking in every possible way; powers which understand and regularly use the very expanded forces they struggle daily to keep beyond public awareness.

Think about it.

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

For God's sake, stop agreeing with me. [n/t] (none / 0) (#259)
by ghjm on Thu Jan 02, 2003 at 10:23:50 AM EST



[ Parent ]
I'll answer, but whether or not you understand... (none / 0) (#205)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 09:54:36 AM EST

My analysis consists simply of the following. . .

1. Create a high profile, high production value, near-impossible-not-to-respect film which everybody simply must see and 'enjoy'. This gives the message a level of authority, the perception of which has a definite effect upon the viewer; it gets in around the limited roadblocks Joe-Average might have set up to prevent this kind of manipulation.

2. Make the film implant the message of Good guys v.s. Bad guys. Quite simply, the Orcs are the archetypal enemy. --The enemy in a well propagandized war is always sub-human. The good guys are trying to destroy the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, (the ring), which must under no circumstances be allowed to fall into the hands of Evil despots and their unwashed hoard. They must be fought by a coalition of the Good and more socially refined nations of the world. Sound familiar?

3. Make the protagonists people we can identify with; the small and well meaning Hobbits, who live in an eternal state of slight confusion with the world around them, but who trust implicitly the wizards and warriors and magical beings bearing them along. (Message: See? It's okay. Frodo and Sam are the same as you! You can take comfort in their ignorant method of dealing with life which can be summed up in short by; "Let Others Direct You; The Power Holders Know Best. Follow them.")

4. Make the film come out at the perfect time. Could this film possibly appear at a more pivotal moment in our unfolding history? Answer: No, actually, it could not.

5. Make the film's title a direct reminder of the initial instigator event. (9/11) --So bold a move that people refuse to even discuss it in rational circles. (Even here, where minds are far more open than on most discussion sites, somebody accused me of being on pills.) A real elephant in the living room, but unbelievably effective. The subconscious is particularly good at picking up on painfully obvious material of which everybody is in denial.

The coincidences begin to add up rather alarmingly, don't they? That's because they're not coincidences.

The fact of the matter is that all this stuff gets sent directly to the subconscious, the predominant driving force of our psyches whether you like it or not. --People may not realize it, but with the Two Towers film, their minds are quietly being suggested in a very firm manner to associate the feelings of love for Tolkien's work and the righteousness with which his characters travail with the Bush Reich's current efforts to invade Iraq. Even if all these coincidences were not done on purpose, the effect is the same. The "Two Towers" is an absolutely remarkable piece of mind-programming and social engineering.

"But how could such a thing be pulled off? It's impossible! Conspiracy! Conspiracy!"

Are you kidding me? Movies work to time-schedules which can be fixed years in advance. If you believe as I certainly do, that the 9/11 charade was planned and scripted, then what makes you think that the program organizers would stop there? The Jews own hollywood, and Zionists control the Jews, and the U.S. is playing the Zionists against the Arabs in an effort to kill all of them, Jews, Arabs and all.

But those are just the visible tools at hand. I tend to think that there are invisible and much more powerful tools available as well. Ones which allow you to set stuff like ths up many, mnay years in advance.

Most people have accepted that our reality is as limited an affair as it is made out to be by our schooling and the current scientific paradigm. --All of which is controlled by the powers which strive to constrict our thinking in every possible way; powers which understand and regularly use the very expanded forces they struggle daily to keep beyond public awareness.

Think about it.

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

A question. (none / 0) (#210)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 05:20:14 PM EST

Why does the U.S. want to play the Zionists against the Arabs in an effort to kill them all? If you say oil, I'm going to hit you. Hard. Otherwise, I'm now rather curious.

Cheers
DLS
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

Well. . . (none / 0) (#215)
by Fantastic Lad on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 02:23:33 AM EST

You're probably going to want to hit me even though I'm not going to say 'Oil'. Yes, there's a good chance of that. Or maybe not. Let's find out, shall we? No beating around the bush.

First off, I do not subscribe to reality as we know it. I believe that science as it is publically understood is infantile and backwards and that human agencies know a great deal more about how things work than normal people suspect. I believe that there are not just man-made chemtrails in the skies, but also UFO's which are not man-made. --That there is an extensive shadow government which already rules the world, and that. . , well, let's just say that things are a great deal more complex and interesting than the reality we have been tricked into believing from birth would have us understand.

Among those realities is that Time is circular and that the end/beginning of the world is just around the corner. (Everybody can feel it, everybody knows on some level, but we all must play our parts.)

Coinciding with the end/beginning is a phenomenon some call the 'Wave'. Essentially, the physical laws of the universe are in flux, there are areas of reality which move through space, within which things work differently than things on the other side of the Wave/realm border. Sometime over the next ten years, our area of reality will change sides. The idea being that when the Wave front hits, one of two things are expected to happen to people, depending on where they are in terms of their spiritual growth and awareness.

1. You experience the Earth as it will be after being bombarded by asteroids and sunk into an ice-age. Life will be difficult, but will go on, and given another few hundred thousand years, things will probably revert back to a similar state as we currently see them. Rampant population growth ripe for the plucking. Atlantis was one of these. There were many others before and there will be many others after ours is finished.

2. You shift into a higher state of awareness, where time is no longer linear in the sense that we understand it now. Backwards and forwards in time will be about the same thing. It'll be rather disorienting by all accounts. --Oh, and the inhabitants of that reality also plan to rule you.

Are you still with me? Alright then. . .

The semites, (Including both Arab and Jewish blood lines), were engineered to activate latent DNA after passing across the realm border in ways that will make it very hard for the hopeful rulers to execute their nefarious plans. It is much easier to wipe them out here in our lower reality than it will be to control them in the higher.

The two levels of reality co-exist. (The Wave just jumps you up to the next energy level as it passes). This means that there are beings of higher energy existing in the same space we are in right now, but we can't see them. This is the spirit world to a degree. Creatures such as the 'Rods' are just low enough in energy to blip into our perceptions for brief moments. Men in Black are aliens, who are able to descend and opperate in our reality for short periods of time. Shape shifting is one of their basic abilities.

Oh yeah. And they eat us. They eat strong emotions, which is partly why we are endlessly coerced into feeling miserable all the damned time. And while they visit in this realm, they actually eat blood. (This is about half of where all the blood drained cattle come from. The other half is done by the human military so as to obfuscate the issue for those trying to find out what the heck is going on.)

Now Hitler was directly instructed by alien inhabitants of that higher realm to wipe out the Jews and prepare his people as a reincarnative breeding ground for a 'race' of souls known as the Nephilam. --Bad and nasty types which cannot be reasoned with, have no pity, and are thoroughly entrenched in selfish thinking. The storm troopers of the New World Order. Hitler failed.

Nazi Germany was the dry run, sort of a test bed to see how to do it right this time around. Bush is the next attempt, and the scope is intended to be bigger and badder by many orders of magnitude.

There are lots of other things going on. This knowledge is not dogma from the teachings of any one group, cult or New Age religion. Part of the effort to keep people in the dark, (because many are starting to notice the cage bars), is to confuse and diffuse and corrupt New Age awareness efforts. The CIA, if you do some research, you will find has a lot of fingers in the New Age community specifically to keep things off balance. But as you cross sample the various approaches to higher awareness, (while avoiding the freeks and cranks and cultists), you start realize that the powerful people at the tops of the morass are in general agreement:

The boundaries between all the different groups are not really that important. Indian Shamans, Toltec gurus or Eastern energy practitioners, those at the top are all aware of the same things. Only the words differ, and sometimes not even that.

Everybody in the know is bracing. Even the young souls who are otherwise ignorant. Even on dipshit television shows like 'Buffy', there is an awareness of the end as it approaches. All the little subconsciouses are screaming.

Are you still there? Want to hit me yet?

Look, I'll offer you a way to make this less annoying:

Go on about your business and don't worry too much. But keep these things in mind. If it turns out that I'm not nearly as crazy as I sound, then you'll have a little information to work with when things get really rocky. Doesn't hurt to file it away.

There. Now aren't you glad you asked?

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

I am offended. (none / 0) (#216)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 02:32:29 AM EST

You don't give me enough credit. We of the Adequacy has made it perfectly clear that we licke Icke. Although, to be honest, I wasn't quite expecting that, but at least you're not as bad as all those pseudo-liberals who keep on blaming oil for everything.

On a side note, I just came back from LOTR: Two Towers, and I must admit, those soldiers in Sauron's army did look suspiciously arabic...
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

there is an awareness of the end as it approaches (none / 0) (#218)
by B M on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 04:39:02 AM EST

Sorry but 'the end is nigh' has been nigh for two thousand years. Get out of your head, go outside and smell the roses.

[ Parent ]
Lawsuit to follow... (none / 0) (#231)
by Handyman on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 06:15:41 AM EST

Watch it.. the Scientologists are going to mess you up for printing their deepest, darkest secrets for everybody to see.

--
Never be afraid to be the first one on the dance floor.
[ Parent ]
Hey...! (none / 0) (#262)
by bars on Sat Feb 08, 2003 at 07:13:16 PM EST

will "they" succeed? what can be wrong whithin your analysis? :)

[ Parent ]
Ahhhm..hhmm ! 8-< (none / 0) (#263)
by bars on Thu Feb 13, 2003 at 06:48:46 AM EST



[ Parent ]
The Two Towers was written 50 years ago! (none / 0) (#214)
by shyy on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 11:13:21 PM EST

4. Make the film come out at the perfect time.

5. Make the film's title a direct reminder of the initial instigator event. (9/11)

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote and titled the second part of The Lord of the Rings, "The Two Towers," nearly 50 years ago. The copyright on my version is 1954.

Peter Jackson started making his films years before 9/11/01.

Otherwise, the best you can do to tie this to 9/11 is say that it is high-profile, involves war, good vs. evil, and has characters we can relate to? Well, that certainly doesn't describe any one of a few thousand other movies or anything...

Give it a rest.



[ Parent ]
Ok (none / 0) (#223)
by raven42rac on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 11:57:58 AM EST

I was with you during the mall rant, I am sure that 99% of us are, but through all the whining and pontificating we still go to the malls anyway and open our wallets. Then you started talking about LOTR being a big Zionist Bush-Admin conspiracy. A. It is a movie, not a propaganda tool, the director is Peter Jackson, not Josef Stalin. B. This is America, we don't have to respect shit, I hated both of the new "Star Wars" films, and I'm not being shipped off to a reeducation camp anytime soon. C. I can really think of no other story type than good guys vs bad guys, in some sense there has to be a protagonist and an antagonist, or else you are gonna have one boring ass piece of shit movie, where else is conflict going to come from, a fluffy bunny, or perhaps a rock. D. The book was written over fifty years ago, I do not understand how then fetus President Bush could have sent out his Jew minions to orchestrate a future war. Yeah it is not right what is going on in Iraq, pretty much anyone with a brain knows this, but not for your reasons, which make absolutely no sense whatsoever, since when do the Jews own Hollywood, oh Speilburg, who has'nt made a good movie in years, come on you are deluding yourself, I do not think that human beings would take out all the effort you describe in order to find a pretext to war, they will just find misspellings in Iraq's "Arms Declartation" to bomb the shit out of women and children.

[ Parent ]
stupid rant (3.00 / 1) (#184)
by Godel on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:07:00 PM EST

Hey, we still sort of live in a free country here. If people want to open up stores selling goods, and other people want to buy those goods, and both parties are happy, what's the problem. Maybe you're the one that has the problem, since both the consumers and stores are perfectly happy, and you're the one trying to impose your idealistic vision of proper behavior on others. Adopt a live and let live approach.

[ Parent ]
See you at the feelies. (4.00 / 1) (#212)
by felixrayman on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 09:03:58 PM EST

Maybe you're the one that has the problem, since both the consumers and stores are perfectly happy

It's a brave new world.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Fantastic Lad discovers that people like stupid sh (3.00 / 1) (#186)
by adequate nathan on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 05:20:05 PM EST

it!

Film at fucking 11. I mean, you're only about 20 years too late, here.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Actually. . . (none / 0) (#204)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 08:54:24 AM EST

I mean, you're only about 20 years too late, here.

Only about 8 years, really. That's apparently the length of time required to refresh my memory of why I avoid certain things.

And it has gotten worse. 8 years ago, there were a much larger number of independant retailers in the malls I once visited. They're ALL gone now, but foot traffic remains about the same. It's kind of like when you discover a good & healthy food product, integrate it into your diet, and then the company quietly alters the ingredient list so that it contains needless chemicals.

That's primarily what I was railing against.

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

Shopping malls (4.00 / 1) (#195)
by izogi on Fri Dec 20, 2002 at 06:29:34 PM EST

I think that's just an ordinary thing about shopping malls, though. Wherever you go. I live in a city of a few hundred thousand people in a country of 3.9 million people (New Zealand) and shopping malls are exactly the same. 75% of the shops sell clothes, and nearly all the rest sell an assortment of food (ie. food court outlets), teeny-bop music, expensive electronics, superficial books and stationary, or they're chemists that double selling prescription medicine as well as soaps, deodorants, possibly cameras and whatever else. Probably less than one percent of the shops there have anything approaching the concept of interesting for browsing.

A few months ago I was accross the ditch in Sydney and I wandered down the road to Miranda Fair (or whatever it's called now) which is supposedly one of the biggest shopping malls in the southern hemisphere and apparently "really good for shopping" according to everyone who told me I should go there. It was exactly the same as what I was already used to, except on a slightly larger scale. Unless I was looking for clothes, and probably only for women's clothes, none of the shops sold more than complete and utter crap. There was just more of it and it took longer to walk from one end to the other.

If I know exactly what I want and it happens to be something mass market, I might go to a shopping mall. Normally though there's just nothing there. The shops that I like more than any others are the ones on the back streets, probably where the foot traffic's lower and the rent isn't anywhere near as high. Unlike chain stores they normally have a much wider variety, and they normally have things that are actually interesting.


- izogi


[ Parent ]
Why does 5% of the population use 25% of energy? (none / 0) (#203)
by otis wildflower on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 01:58:17 AM EST

Because it can.

Granted IIRC the US GNP was about 20% of the global GNP, so it kind of fits, since energy use should be in line with productivity to be fair.


Thingism (4.00 / 3) (#207)
by Rainy on Sat Dec 21, 2002 at 12:06:27 PM EST

Back in USSR it was called 'thingism'. There is a certain kind of high to be had when you tear off the fresh wrapping and unravel a New Thing. It looks new. It has no scratches on it, for a short while. It stands out favorably among your old things (little t), covered with signs of decay. Even more importantly, it SMELLS new. It gives you something to talk about, to tell your friends and relations.

Addiction is harmfull in all forms. I think the essence of addiction is, for example, if you're reading a book not because the book is interesting, but because you're bored. Sometimes I buy a new thing - and I first convince myself that I need it and it will "come in handy", but in all truth, I largely buy it because there's an element of narcotic rush in buying a new thing and the whole ordeal.

The only cure there is - and it's not laws, regulations, propaganda, talk of ecology, starving children, shaming people into not doing what they like to do <TM>, - the only cure is analyzing your reasons for doing it.

By the way, these people with full $300 shopping baskets are doing the same thing you do when you buy a new computer. It's only that they're not into computers. It's hard for us to see because computers may be useful, but that's where you have to look back sometimes.. I once bought a 2-way celeron overclocked from 350 to 523, because I was hoping to do some 3D modeling on it, and I never got to that. Was that merely a mistake on my part? I planned something, and turned out to be wrong? No, I doubt it. I just liked buying a new shiny computer and I made up an excuse that worked.

En masse, people are uncurable, they'll stop when they run out of money. The country will stop when it runs out of money. The world will stop when it runs out of ore and trees and oil.

There was one Sparta and one million other cities that thought ascetism interesting but impractical. The score is million to one.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

do people still like Christmas? (4.00 / 1) (#217)
by ryochiji on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 03:08:11 AM EST

I've experienced Christmas in three different countries, and it seems like Christmas is appreciated and enjoyed the least in the US.  Personally, I really liked Christmas in Germany.  In the Altstadt (old town) of just about every town and city, a beautifully decorated Weinachtsmarkt (an outdoor Christmas market) springs up a month or so before Christmas.  There are vendors selling crafts and gifts of various sorts, as well as food and drinks.  In the square or plaza, a stage might be setup where local choires and bands perform.  And after an hour or two out in the cold, it's an exceptional feeling to treat oneself to some gluhwein (hot red wine), bratwurst, or hot roasted nuts.  Althought it gets crowded at times, there never was the frantic sense of urgency or the level of stress that's so common in malls and shopping centers around the US.  In fact, it was something I looked forward to every year, and something I've missed dearly since I left Germany.

Having experienced a Christmas or two in the US since, it almost feels like consumerism and materialism has stolen Christmas.  Is it really worth all the stress?  Not to mention, who really wants all these gifts anyway?  If you can survive 364.25 days without the excessive gift exchange, surely you could survive another day, couldn't you?  And instead of spending money on useless gifts, why not save up and go someplace, like Germany, and actually enjoy Christmas for once.  You won't believe what you're missing out on.

As for myself, I will be spending Christmas with the only family I have in-country (my dad), driving around trying to look for a restaurant that's open and willing to feed us on Christmas day.  But I'm willing to bet that over all, my Christmas will be less stressful, and hence more enjoyable, than that of the typical good consumer.

---
IlohaMail: Webmail that works.

I agree (none / 0) (#221)
by tarpy on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 09:41:41 AM EST

Having spent a good portion of a Christmas season once in southwest Ireland (Co. Cork), I can say that the whole old-school European traditional Christmas lifestyle is both more appealing and more 'spiritually' fulfilling than the rampant consumerism that we have up here.

As on other poster pointed out early in the discussion, the rest of the West is rapidly trying to emulate us here in the US (dunno know why).

An interesting question for me, at least, is how does Canada do at this time of the year. Michael Moore in his new movie shows that Canada, with nearly (if not more) guns per person has a significantly less violent society mostly due (in his opinion) to the fundamental differences in culture between the US and Canada. I wonder how/if commercialization plays a role.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

About the same (none / 0) (#226)
by 0xA on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 02:42:17 PM EST

As on other poster pointed out early in the discussion, the rest of the West is rapidly trying to emulate us here in the US (dunno know why).

As a Canadian I can tell you that this isn't really a national goal or something. It just happens becuase we consume so much of your media, and their advertising . As does much of the rest of the world.

I wouldn't say that there are too many differences in the way Canadians and the US whore, err, treat Christmas. I was in Seattle just before a few years ago, it's done about the same. You could go to the mall and watch the same harried looking people rushing around to the same stores buying the same junk.

About the gun thing. Moore hit the difference in our cultures pretty good. I am currently looking around at handguns and will probably buy one. I want it so I can to the range and put holes in paper with it. I have posted to a few web forums asking people about various models and such. I am always stuck by the replies asking if I want it for "home defense" or as a "carry" gun.

I can't think of _any_ reason I need a gun to "defend" my home and the idea of walking around with the thing is just absurd to me. I tried to talk to people in the US, friends and people online, about why they think they need a gun for things like this but I never really get anywhere with it. I just can't grok the concepts.

It is a fear thing, Americans are scared. I don't understand why.

[ Parent ]

guns for self-defense (none / 0) (#228)
by tarpy on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 08:16:08 PM EST

I can't think of _any_ reason I need a gun to "defend" my home and the idea of walking around with the thing is just absurd to me. I certainly agree with the 'packing heat' thing, but the idea of having a gun as a self-defense measure isn't so foreign to me...imagine you are a widow living on Chicago's South Side...imagine that your current block is the site of some intense warfare between two rival gangs for control of the drug distribution...then the idea of having a piece in your house for protection suddenly doesn't seem so abstract or weird.

I'm lucky to live in a part of Chicago where I don't need any special protection, but if I lived near the projects or in a gang infested area, I'm sure my attitude would be radically different.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Maybe (none / 0) (#229)
by 0xA on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 10:35:27 PM EST

This is why I always try to qualify the comments I make on the subject. There is no way I can understand the viewpoint of someone in that situation. It seems really far fetched to me, I've never seen anything like that.

[ Parent ]
Weariness with Exmas (none / 0) (#227)
by IHCOYC on Sun Dec 22, 2002 at 04:42:46 PM EST

I am also quite weary and annoyed at Exmas and its two and a half month advertising cycle. The actual day seems anticlimactic, and I am mostly glad for it to be over. I think it's only a matter of time before an anti-Exmas sentiment becomes more widespread.

One problem is that the Exmas meme contains its own defences. You're allowed not to observe, say, Hallowe'en, to object to the observation on moral or religious grounds, and to refuse to participate. Most of the government holidays don't have enough presence to make themselves anything other than a day off for the fortunate few. But Exmas is an obligation, like Mother's Day; and anything that makes itself such an obligation will breed resentment. Tales of Scrooge and Grinch enforce the notion that not enjoying Exmas and refusing to participate make you a bad person.

Frankly, I would love to spend November and December in Teheran.

Choke the last Santa with the guts of the last reindeer!
[ Parent ]

It's all about self-awareness (4.00 / 1) (#232)
by the original jht on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 08:20:53 AM EST

There's nothing inherently wrong with consumption.  SUV's aren't necessarily evil.  Buying things at Xmastime (or any other time) isn't bad.  Enjoying the shiny new stuff you bought is OK, too.

That said now, I'll put conditions on my statement.  Going into hock to buy things is bad.  In fact, going into hock for anything (except homes, education, and arguably cars) is probably a bad idea.  As has been pointed out ably by others in this thread, we don't just consume, we also produce.  Far more than any other nation, in fact.  That's not a Bad Thing, either.

It's also bad to buy things just for the sake of buying things.  Think your actions through.  Try not to just do what the advertisements tell you to do.  Try and let yourself be ruled by reason, rather than by others.  You don't have to be smug and smarmy about it.  You don't have to pull a Tyler Durden and self-consciously rebel against it.  You can participate - go ahead and get some enjoyment out of consumerism.

Just remember that there's a lot more to life than your things.

- -Josh Turiel
"Someday we'll all look back at this and laugh..."

Consumerism's costs (none / 0) (#244)
by Resident Geek on Tue Dec 24, 2002 at 04:41:50 PM EST

When we buy something, we pay only the explicit costs. When you say "into hock", you don't take into account the implicit costs of making the thing you're buying--the destruction of the world around you for the sake of producing that shiny little toy. It takes resources, manpower, and land to build the factory which builds your SUV, replacing the homes of thousands of animals for the sake of a new vehicle which is already polluting the air we breathe. Consumerism has as its costs the very world in which we live. Buying manufactured goods only supports the destruction of the natural world. That's a pretty heavy debt.

--
Fighting the War on the War On Drugs


[ Parent ]
The world is not a zero-sum game, folks (5.00 / 1) (#250)
by the original jht on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 01:51:45 PM EST

It's all about balance.  Would the world be a better place if we all reverted to an agrarian, nomadic lifestyle where we all migrated with the seasons and the condition of the local environment?  Some parts of the world might, in fact, be better off that way (after all, modern industrial society makes it possible to inhabit many places that would otherwise be unspoiled), but the overwhelming majority of humans would find the world to be a far worse place that way.

The factory that builds the SUV was built on land that otherwise might have been used for farming in a more agrarian society.  Sure.  But farms nowadays can feed far more people with far less land than it once required - so in a different world that probably would be cultivated and used for food.  Resources must be consumed, but not all resources are non-renewable.  Manpower goes into building the SUV, but those people are paid for their labors - and most workers today make far more money, have far better (and longer) lives, and much better access to care than their predecessors.  Heck, the computer you used to write this was responsible for a huge amount of environmental damage, too - and probably as many if not more toxins than the SUV generated as part of being built.  Of course, the electricity your computer used was probably generated by a coal or oil-fueled power plant, but that's almost besides the point.  

See, it's a noble goal to not "buy manufactured goods", but a terribly impractical one.  People prefer to buy their furniture over making it.  They prefer cars (and SUVs) to horses (and if they rode horses, the carriages would be manufactured).  They prefer mobility to living a community-centric life.  The company I work for was named for a man who never traveled more than 100 miles from his hometown in his life.  Yet today, we have more than one employee who chooses to drive more than 100 miles each way to come here (I only live a mile from my office, though).  Those people prefer the life they can live farther away from here when they aren't at work - and they come here to earn the money to support that life.  And that's a valid choice nowadays.

The world is a different place than it once was, and for the most part that's an improvement.  Don't kid yourself thinking that consumerism is the destruction of some idyllic lifestyle that humans enjoyed prior to the current century.  It wasn't.  Most humans lived in squalor and near-servitude to a much tinier elite than exists today.  As Hobbes put it, life was "nasty, brutish, and short".  Rather than be educated, children simply went to work, usually before reaching their teens.  People died of diseases bred by poor sanitation, close quarters, poor healthcare, and a total lack of any workplace safety whatsoever.  There was virtually no hope for upward mobility, as well.  Organized religions held absolute sway in most nations, with inbred "royalty" being mere idiot puppets before them.

In short, the world sucked.  Sure, the forests grew tall (where they weren't clear-cut for firewood), and the climate was cooler, but humans lived crappy existences.

Are we better off today?  For the most part, yes we are - despite the "consumerist" tendencies people have.  Are we taking good enough care of the world today?  No, we aren't - and we need to do better.  But the priority shouldn't be shunning SUV's and getting rid of designer jeans.  The priority should be providing basic healthcare for the huge portion of the world's population that still doesn't have it.  It should be in developing cleaner sources of power (and I count nuclear among those).  We need better sanitaion in virtually all the developing world.  Our focus as a species should be on providing decent, safe, and prosperous lives for all the members of the species who wish it, in a manner that preserves the world as best as possible for future generations and the other species we share it with.  We should give humans decent lives, and enough leisure time to enjoy it.  If they wish to spend some of that time enjoying the Things they buy with their prosperity, then more power to them.

At least they can make that choice for themselves.

One more comment:  In this old post (http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/2/24/25359/8048/293#293), I expounded a little more on what the world (IMO) needs.  I think it's germane to this discussion.
- -Josh Turiel
"Someday we'll all look back at this and laugh..."

[ Parent ]

Consuming ourselves to death | 263 comments (237 topical, 26 editorial, 2 hidden)
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