Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cult of the Amateur

"People are crazy,
Times are strange.
I used to care,
but things have changed".

-Bob Dylan

If you asked me if I care at all about a spoiled heiress getting hauled off to serve jail time for being stupid enough not to use a driver for her narcissistic socialising around LA, I would most certainly say not at all.

But the fact that so many people are is good enough reason for any social scientist to dig a little deeper. Not unlike O.J., or that little beauty pageant girl that was murdered and the parents were suspect, or any other of the multitudes of scandal-driven media frenzies that regularly obsess the Americans, and by way of technology, the rest of the world; this has all the hallmarks of a divided and dysfunctional class system. Or should that be a divided and dysfunctional justice system. The class system seems to me to be functioning quite well.

For some. At least the princess can have some "time to think and learn" and see what life is like on the other side. Not necessarily a bad thing. Those morning showers could be a bit chilly though without heated floor tiles...

The bloggers have been out in full force on this one, with most notably Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, as well as Bait and Switch, penning a few words about what she sees as the most appropriate course of action for what she describes as the "bloated overclass" in this piece for Huffington Post.

Even Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, gets a word in on the absurd coverage, and his scolded by Stephen Colbert here. A funny guy still.

More Global Gymnastics of the Gentrified: Bono and Bob Geldof both make their regular appearance at the G8 type summits where political leaders pose and preen, looking like they are serious about some of the pressing problems of the world. To get a photo with one of these guys can help with some of the Generation Y vote or some such ditorted logic. Not so impressed, however with the follow through on recent pledges, these crusaders of cool give one back to the governments here.

Meanwhile, The i-Phone is coming, and if anyone were interested in brand equity at business school, the current juggernaut that is Apple would be the right place to start. The hype is nearly suffocating in the tech world, and Jobs and co are trying to lower expectations a bit just to avoid disappointment.

Not in the product itself, but in the ability to get one while simply everyone else is trying to as well. Mark Morford of the SF Chronicle has the lowdown here. But will it make really you happier?

Marketing genius, or the Secret of all Persuasion: induce the people to persuade themselves.

Whole Foods, the uber-store for greenies with cash, has opened up in London. Not everyone is impressed. Apparently the idea of cherries that are $10/punnet organic or not, is the one of the deal-breakers according to this Guardian piece.

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivores Dilemma, has researched the chain store at length, and has another installment in his food politics writing from the Bioneers people here, called Beyond the Bar Code.

Back in Godzone, political leaders here are as usual scrambling in an awkward dance when it comes to meeting with the Dalai Lama. Is he a spiritual teacher or a political exile engaged in "splitist" activities for a long time, as per the Chinese foreign embassy? One thing is for sure, he is a winner of the Nobel Peace prize, and an engaging orator. I for one am looking forward to hearing him speak next week when he is in the country. I have heard him several times, and on no occasion has he ever spoken ill of anyone, let alone the large country to the north that invaded his tiny sovereign nation all those years ago.

Winter is setting in for us Southern Hemisphere residents, grass is greening, temps dropping, and the shortest day appears around the corner. Matariki, or the Maori New Year celebrations take place over the next couple of weeks with the rising of the Pleiades constellation. The literal translation is "small eyes", and signified the right time to plant, as well as historically serving navigation purposes in their maritime voyages. I am not so sure about their waka travels, but with climate change making such an impact on our atmosphere and weather, it is gradually becoming a bit late with wet and cool weather requiring an earlier sowing.

I am a big fan of singer songwriter Jeff Buckley, who tragically died 10 years ago last month, in a drowning accident at the peak of his career. Sad story, but his memory lives on, thanks to clips like this on YouTube. Enjoy. Life can change at the blink of an eye.

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