necessary things
August 24, 2011, 3:42 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , ,

Percentage of North Americans Declaring the Following Items to Be Necessities

Second car
Second television set
More than one telephone
Car air conditioning
Home air conditioning



Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton p 194


rioters and partiers
August 23, 2011, 6:24 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: , , , , , ,

In America you have the tea party, in England you’ve got this.

– UK rioter.

They see the hierarchy and riot; we are told there is no hierarchy and believe it.

A friend on facebook asked:  why do the Brits riot while in America we have the tea party?  They have rioters and we have partiers.

He is of course assuming that economic events – budget cuts and economic stagnation – are the common cause which give rise to both the rioters and partiers.  I waited and watched the thread for two days during which time he received, as could be expected, representative opinions from the cultural extremes:  the rioters are thugs and n’er-do-wells, or they are disenfranchised and have lost hope.  Partiers are crackpots working against their own best interests; they are the true fiscal stewards.

But these pat answers don’t address the question – a good one – to name the constituent difference, between England and America, that would lead to profoundly different reactions to arguably the same social impetus:  drawbacks based on a failing economy.  There has to be profound differences between societies that react so differently.

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eternal f word
August 22, 2011, 7:18 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Today, the word fascism is overused by anyone who wants to demagogue his enemy.  So a real definition is important.  Excerpted below is Italian author Umberto Eco’s fourteen qualities of fascism.  He was a child in Rome when Mussolini fell, so he has a particular insight into the Italian version of the movement.

Lifted directly from Eco’s fourteen points, the hallmarks of fascism are:  traditionalism, action trumps intellectualism, opposition to discernment, fear of the ‘other,’ racism, call to consensus, personal and shared frustration, nationalism, shame by a perceived dominant class, shared struggle, permanent warfare, popular (as opposed to aristocratic) elitism, power through machismo and misogyny, leaders who claim to speak for ‘the people,’ and a new form of speaking that includes “impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  Then perhaps you’re living in a fascist state and should either protest or move or both.

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and when I shall die
August 20, 2011, 7:35 am
Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,


“And when I shall die, take him and cut him up in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will fall in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.” Juliet

I don’t know why I can’t stop crying over Amy Winehouse.  I barely paid her attention since the world began to notice her; some songs on my ipod and occasional wincing at how cruelly she was treated by the British press as she struggled with her life going in and out of relationships, courtrooms, concert venues, London flats, pubs, fixes and addiction treatment centers.

She reminds me of the child heroine of Elizabethan literature Juliet, I’m not sure why.  Perhaps it is her beauty, her youth, her desperate affairs and tragic end.  But with each new evidence during these past few days since her death – video, picture, story – her resemblance to Juliet clarifies for me:  her core motivation, and our great fascination with her, is her mad, relentless craving for love.

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squinting at pop
August 15, 2011, 5:23 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

Facebook status updates are quite a bit about life actualized:  sushi lunches and manicures on days off, chillin’ with single malts in Brooklyn lofts, cedar planking salmon, safariing in east Africa, prix fixe with poached flounder, taking post season dips in the Tyrrhenian Sea, generally jetting about, and so on.  I like reading them, but must admit many are giggle inducing.  Would they, gathered together, make a viral tumblr?  No doubt.

The actualizing set has seductive new tools.  Facebook’s ‘like’ and Google’s G+ are innocuous but powerful little buttons built on the human need to have and to express strong opinions about — well, about everything and nothing. Essentially, they are curatorial tools, which puts everybody in the desirous position of editor.  They give delusions of influence and power.  That they are viral shows our deep need to know, to be culturally evolved and experienced.

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the month of fasting
August 13, 2011, 4:47 am
Filed under: departure lounge, unseen world | Tags:

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A – the devil’s dictionary

Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary is the rock bottom of cynicism and irony.  And this is just the A’s!  It purports to describe hell but we recognize it right away as our lives here and now among the quick.  Our most sacred qualities are unceremoniously toppled and made rag tag and treacherous.  Every motivation is duplicitous, each shining character quality fully avaricious. Nothing is as it seems; there is a dark, blanketing shadow of motivation behind every relationship and action.  Corruption has achieved its apotheosis.  You get the picture.

Some of the A’s from the dictionary:

ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn. Continue reading

no choice but to go where they are going
August 1, 2011, 5:53 pm
Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: , ,

Everyone and no one is talking about trains.  How subversive they are  to our car driving ways.  How they’re a good idea but they probably won’t get built.  How China will win the race to prosperity and world dominance because they are building fast ones and we aren’t.  How expensive they are, even though they’re actually much cheaper in the long run than cars and roads and freeways.

Very few people are talking about the psychology of trains, however.

When I was eight, my parents drove me to our local train station where we met on the platform a small group of other kid travelers in shorts and sandals with tin trunks with their names stenciled on talking wildly about their summers — and parents needlessly rushing around to finalize seat assignments and to tie up emotional loose ends. Continue reading