The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'affluenza'

2009/10/24

The BBC looks at the sociological phenomena behind the rising popularity of cupcakes:

The humble cupcake has even been linked to political culture. Ms Twilley sees cupcakes both democratic - one each - and libertarian - there is no imperative to share and everyone chooses a flavour - in marked contrast to the communal cake.
Dr Smith believes there could be something behind this theory. "There are more diverse kinds of families now," he says. "These social changes could have an impact upon the type of baking we're producing. Quantity could have changed - it might be that we prefer lots of little cakes to one huge one now."
Cupcakes as a symptom of social atomisation/the bowling-alone phenomenon/the decline of collective institutions?

affluenza bowling alone cupcakes society 0

2009/10/13

A survey has revealed that Britain has the worst quality of life in Europe, despite having the highest incomes:

It revealed that Britain had the highest net household income - £35,730 a year it is 10,000 pounds above the European norm - but much of this is spent on a higher cost of living.
Britain is also near the bottom of the rankings when it comes to health and education spending as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), has a below average life expectancy - and enjoys far less sunshine.
And it's only going to get worse when spending cuts kick in.

The best quality of life, meanwhile, is right across the Channel, in France.

affluenza happiness thatcherism-blairism uk 0

2008/4/17

This is not the Onion: The latest children's book to be making a ripple is "My Beautiful Mommy", written by Florida plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer, and intended to help children come to terms with their mothers' plastic surgery:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.
Then there are the body image issues raised by cosmetic surgery—especially for daughters. Berger worries that kids will think their own body parts must need "fixing" too. The surgery on a nose, for example, may "convey to the child that the child's nose, which always seemed OK, might be perceived by Mommy or by somebody as unacceptable," she says.

(via Boing Boing) affluenza children education mary sues narcissism plastic surgery society wrong 0

2008/3/25

Concerned about its young citizens being too busy working hard to find partners, the government of Singapore (perhaps one of the most efficiently managed societies in history) has begun offering lessons in seduction. Not that type of seduction, though, of course, but something altogether more wholesome and befitting of a place described as "Disneyland with the death penalty":

Students at two polytechnics can earn two credits towards their final degree by choosing the love elective. Activities include watching romantic films, holding hands and "love song analysis".
(They need a course with credits for holding hands? Good grief. Has all spontaneity really been disciplined out of the Singaporean spirit to the point where they need to be directed on how to fall in love?)
But it is not so easy to put Singaporean youth in the mood for love. Another student who did the course, Kamal Prakash, said: "I'm not really looking for a girlfriend now as I want to concentrate on my studies."

affluenza authoritarianism love relationships seduction sex singapore society 0

2007/6/21

The Guardian reveals an all-but-forgotten fragment of the social history of 1980s Britain: a ZX Spectrum game named Hampstead, which codified the aspirational values of Thatcher-era Britain in the blocky, primary-coloured computer graphics of the period:

Hampstead was the ultimate 1980s adventure game, yet one of the few that broke from the traditional orcs and goblins fare. In it, you took the role of a down and out dreamer trapped in a grotty east London flat with ideals of leafy suburbs and affluence.
As aspirational games go, this text adventure was pretty high on the narcissistic scale. With the right clothes, the right education, the right muesli and the right girl (Pippa, of course), all that stood between your and your freehold was her Dad. And he was a pussycat. Hampstead taught a generation of future Brees and Tarquins how to climb the social ladder and how to look good while doing it.

affluenza culture hampstead history retrocomputing society thatcherism-blairism uk zx spectrum 0

2006/9/20

Hewlett-Packard is doing its part to tackle the affluent world's obesity crisis—by developing a digital camera that can make photographic subjects look slimmer.

(via Boing Boing) affluenza gadgets obesity photography vanity 0

2006/8/11

While antidepressants have been popular in the West for some decades, there was originally next to no demand for them in Japan, as Japanese culture (which is based on Buddhism) had no concept of depression as an illness. Then, in 1999, a Japanese pharmaceutical company introduced the concept of depression to Japan, coining a name for it: "kokoro no kaze", literally, "common cold of the soul":

For 1,500 years of Japanese history, Buddhism has encouraged the acceptance of sadness and discouraged the pursuit of happiness -- a fundamental distinction between Western and Eastern attitudes. The first of Buddhism's four central precepts is: suffering exists. Because sickness and death are inevitable, resisting them brings more misery, not less. ''Nature shows us that life is sadness, that everything dies or ends,'' Hayao Kawai, a clinical psychologist who is now Japan's commissioner of cultural affairs, said. ''Our mythology repeats that; we do not have stories where anyone lives happily ever after.'' Happiness is nearly always fleeting in Japanese art and literature. That bittersweet aesthetic, known as aware, prizes melancholy as a sign of sensitivity.
This traditional way of thinking about suffering helps to explain why mild depression was never considered a disease. ''Melancholia, sensitivity, fragility -- these are not negative things in a Japanese context,'' Tooru Takahashi, a psychiatrist who worked for Japan's National Institute of Mental Health for 30 years, explained. ''It never occurred to us that we should try to remove them, because it never occurred to us that they were bad.''
Direct-to-consumer drug advertising is illegal in Japan, so the company relied on educational campaigns targeting mild depression. As Nakagawa put it: ''People didn't know they were suffering from a disease. We felt it was important to reach out to them.'' So the company formulated a tripartite message: ''Depression is a disease that anyone can get. It can be cured by medicine. Early detection is important.''
It is arguable that Japan may have needed a concept of, and treatment for, depression, with its suicide rate being over twice the levels experienced in Western countries. Though one can't help but wonder whether the cultural change brought by introducing the concept of depression will result in Japanese culture losing something and becoming more like everywhere else (which is to say McWorld). And, if so, whether or not the gains will outweigh any loss.

(via MindHacks) affluenza culture depression japan 0

2006/8/3

Under new guidelines from the Professional Association of Teachers, bright school pupils should no longer be called "clever", to save them the stigma attached to the tag; cleverness, you see, is seen as deeply uncool by school children, and any schoolchild unfortunate enough to be recognised as such would soon end up ridiculed and ostracised, if not used for knife practice, by their peers.

The association has recommended the use of the word "successful" instead; after all, success is associated with professional footballers, bling-toting rappers, asset-stripping corporate raiders and other socially acceptable role models, and thus has positive connotations.

Of course, if "successful" is used in this fashion, it will become synonymous with being a despised teacher's pet, and end up being used sarcastically as a term of abuse (much in the way that "brave" and "special" have become synonymous with physical or mental handicaps). Then perhaps it'll be time to adopt a new term of praise for educational achievement; possibly "pimpin'", or "well weapon"?

affluenza anti-intellectualism culture success 0

2006/7/28

A study at the University of Leicester has produced a global map of happiness, by country.

According to the study's methodology, the happiest countries on Earth are, in descending order, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland and The Bahamas. (I would have thought that Nordic countries such as Iceland would have been penalised by the long winter nights and incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder; perhaps the spectacular landscapes and general coolness makes up for that.) The USA is 23rd ("We're #23!"), and the UK is #41; meanwhile, various Japanophiles will be disappointed to find that Japan scrapes in at #90, being slightly sadder than the median. The least happy places surveyed are Zimbabwe and Burundi.

Looking at the map, which is shaded according to colour, certain patterns emerge. Scandinavia and Finland are the same sanguine shade of red as Iceland and the US; Ireland is happier than the UK, and France and Portugal are the least happy countries in western Europe. Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand are both in the top shade of happiness, as is Bhutan; Africa is generally a deeply unhappy place and Russia is quite gloomy. Not surprisingly, no data exists for Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Somalia or North Korea, though one can guess that they're probably not brimming with joy.

affluenza happiness 0

2006/7/12

A professor of psychiatry in Dublin suggests that Reaganite/Thatcherite "economic rationalist" ideology may have originated in Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. The claim is based on a diagnosis of Sir Keith Joseph, a pioneer of the radical free-market ideology that strongly influenced Margaret Thatcher:

"His ideas have influenced politics for 20 years. Monetarism has some of the characteristics of Asperger's in its insensitivity and its harshness - that is my point, the man and what he does in life are one. It is important to know this because these people control the destiny of the nation," Professor Fitzgerald said.
People with Asperger's are mostly of normal intelligence but have narrow, intense or obsessive interests. They suffer social impairment and have difficulty making friends and forming and keeping relationships. They lack the ability to understand the subtext of social situations, and make remarks that cause offence or behave in ways that breach the rules of acceptability. They have to learn social skills intellectually rather than intuitively.
That doesn't sound too far away from "there is no such thing as society".

affluenza asperger's syndrome economic rationalism economics monetarism politics society thatcherism-blairism 1

2006/4/26

Grim Meathook Realist Jamie Zawinski recently posted a link to an interesting article on the decline of leisure time in America:

The rise of worktime was unexpected. For nearly a hundred years, hours had been declining. When this decline abruptly ended in the late 1940s, it marked the beginning of a new era in worktime. But the change was barely noticed. Equally surprising, but also hardly recognized, has been the deviation from Western Europe. After progressing in tandem for nearly a century, the United States veered off into a trajectory of declining leisure, while in Europe work has been disappearing. Forty years later, the differences are large.
Since 1948, productivity has failed to rise in only five years. The level of productivity of the U.S. worker has more than doubled. In other words, we could now produce our 1948 standard of living (measured in terms of marketed goods and services) in less than half the time it took in that year. We actually could have chosen the four-hour day. Or a working year of six months. Or, every worker in the United Stares could now be taking every other year off from work-with pay. Incredible as it may sound, this is just the simple arithmetic of productivity growth in operation.But between 1948 and the present we did not use any of the productivity dividend to reduce hours. In the first two decades after 1948, productivity grew rapidly, at about 3 percent a year. During that period worktime did not fall appreciably. Annual hours per labor force participant fell only slightly. And on a per-capita (rather than a labor force) basis, they even rose a bit. Since then, productivity growth has been lower, but still positive, averaging just over 1 percent a year. Yet hours have risen steadily for two decades. In 1990, the average American owns and consumes more than twice as much as he or she did in 1948, but also has less free time.
Of course, "Western Europe" here means "Inefficient Socialist Europe", and excludes Britain, which would be somewhere between the two extremes of the time-poor Americans frantically running on their hedonic treadmills to keep up with each other and the economically stagnant cheese-eating, wine-drinking José Bové slow-lifers of Europe. As would Australia, which, with its new employment laws, looks set to move closer to the US model. (I wonder how many employees in Howard's Australia will decide not to trade half of their annual leave for more income.)

The decline in American leisure time seems to have resulted from the boom in material prosperity since the end of the war, and the "hedonic treadmill" effect: individual happiness being a function of one's comparative prosperity next to one's peers, rather than one's absolute wellbeing, meaning that luxuries soon became necessities, and as some people were willing to trade more of their leisure time for the chance to accumulate more shiny objects, others found themselves bound to follow, and the few refuseniks found themselves having little choice, because, whilst you can trade earnings for goods, trading them for free time is harder:

With few exceptions, employers (the sellers) don't offer the chance to trade off income gains for a shorter work day or the occasional sabbatical. They just pass on income, in the form of annual pay raises or bonuses, or, if granting increased vacation or personal days, usually do so unilaterally. Employees rarely have the chance to exercise an actual choice about how they will spend their productivity dividend. The closest substitute for a "market in leisure" is the travel and other leisure industries that advertise products to occupy, our free time. But this indirect effect has been weak, as consumers crowd increasingly expensive leisure spending into smaller periods of time.
In economic terms, this feedback loop has been good for investors, making the United States a world leader in productivity. In social terms, there has been a heavy toll, with stress, family breakdown, and children brought up by their PlayStations whilst their harried parents work full time and come home too stressed and exhausted for any meaningful interaction:
Sleep has become another casualty of modern life. According to sleep researchers, studies point to a "sleep deficit" among Americans, a majority of whom are currently getting between 60 and 90 minutes less a night than they should for optimum health and performance. The number of people showing up at sleep disorder clinics with serious problems has skyrocketed in the last decade. Shiftwork, long working hours, the growth of a global economy (with its attendant continent-hopping and twenty-four-hour business culture), and the accelerating pace of life have all contributed to sleep deprivation. If you need an alarm clock, the experts warn, you're probably sleeping too little.
Half the population now says they have too little time for their families. The problem is particularly acute for women: in one study, half of all employed mothers reported it caused either "a lot" or an "extreme" level of stress. The same proportion feel that "when I'm at home I try to make up to my family for being away at work, and as a result I rarely have any time for myself." This stress has placed tremendous burdens on marriages. Two-earner couples have less time together, which researchers have found reduces the happiness and satisfaction of a marriage. These couples often just don't have enough time to talk to each other. And growing numbers of husbands and wives are like ships passing in the night, working sequential schedules to manage their child care.
Even when parents are at home, overwork may leave them with limited time, attention, or energy for their children. One working parent noted, "My child has severe emotional problems because I am too tired to listen to him. It is not quality time; it's bad quantity time that's destroying my family." Economist Victor Fuchs has found that between 1960 and 1986, the time parents actually had available to be with children fell ten hours a week for whites and twelve for blacks. Hewlett links the "parenting deficit" to a variety of problems plaguing the country's youth: poor performance in school, mental problems, drug and alcohol use, and teen suicide.
Thank God that America has a world-class pharmaceutical industry to provide treatments for the numerous effects of such a lifestyle.

(via jwz) affluenza grim meathook present hedonic treadmill leasure usa 0

2006/2/23

If this article is to be believed, the young people who grew up in John Howard's Australia have taken the Tory government's values wholly to heart:

The language of the Howard Government on religious minorities and refugees has resulted in a generation desensitised to the very human realities and manifestations of global inequity and ethnic difference. When Howard talks of "queue jumpers" and "illegals" to describe refugees, there is a knee-jerk tendency among young people to apportion blame rather than feel empathy. This is a state of affairs that Howard has personally overseen, a significant paradigm shift that entrenches a deep and pernicious ethos of social hierarchy and privilege.
Simultaneously, there is a tendency of young people to flock to evangelical religious movements in the past five years, particularly in the outer suburbs of our capital cities. Without wishing to speak disparagingly about young people seeking spiritual depth, we can say that within these new popular religious movements disengagement with mainstream political reality is fostered. To many of these groups, "family values" becomes a code for being anti-gay, anti-euthanasia and anti-abortion. It is alarming to hear how frequently young people today embrace this kind of neo-conservatism, almost like a race to see who can be more right-wing.
Moreover, with Howard's constant talk of a very white-bread brand of traditional family values being paramount to a good society, we have seen a sudden rush of young people to get married early, get a home loan and shift to the suburbs at the first opportunity. This obsession has even extended into the gay community, which after fighting for 30 years to keep the government out of the bedroom, now appears to be fighting for the approval of Howard for their relationships.
Coupled with this, we have witnessed in Australia a new kind of hyper-consumerism. The social centre of town on any given evening is now the local shopping centre. Young people are all too eager to get the biggest credit limits possible, and max their Visa cards out with the casualness of a walk in the park. Indeed, the Howard era has brought us closer to US style ultra-materialism, where "retail therapy" is the new buzz word. Feeling bored or depressed? Better get to Chadstone shopping centre. The so-called metrosexual male has become little more than a crass marketing ploy.
The lack of empathy, hyperconsumerism and devil-take-the-hindmost mentality could be the same Hobbesian muscular nihilism witnessed in the United States. Though the rise of US-style right-wing evangelical churches and acceptance of conformistic ideas of "family values" is more alarming, especially coupled with the thread of intolerance for difference hinted at. Australia may be changing, on a deep level, into one large Red State, one in which nonconformity is something to be punished and straightened rather than embraced.

affluenza australia conformism consumerism culture war hobbesianism intolerance majoritarianism monetarism survival values values 1

2005/6/8

The taller one is, a common belief goes, the better one's career and romantic prospects are. (There is some truth to this; studies (in America, I believe) have quantified the expected increase in income per inch of height to be in the order of thousands of dollars a year.) In China, this belief has reached its logical conclusion, with height-anxious Chinese investing in torture-rack-style stretching machines and Gattaca-style height-enhancement surgery.

(via chuck_lw) affluenza health height self-improvement status 1

2004/12/28

Expatriate citizen-of-the-world Momus returns to Britain -- and hates it; on returning, he finds squalor, shabbiness, crass consumerism and an edge of latent aggression.

The marketing is slick and constant, nothing works, and it's twice the price it would be back home. And there's some sort of druggy, boozy menace hanging over the streets at night. Blame the binge drinking sprees! Have a happy smashed British Christmas!
We stop at a filling station on the Shoreditch High Street to buy some food. A homeless man is sitting at the entrance. 'Spare some change, please? Spare some change?' A black man gets out of a BMW and comes over to reform him. 'Look at yourself, mate, you've got to stop using the stuff. Go to a gym, man, do a workout, get out of this state you're in, it's a fucking shame on you, man!' He's a winner, the junkie's a loser. Go to a gym, start a business, buy a BMW, join the winners. It's dog eat dog.
The next morning the taps in the bathroom don't seem to work, and neither does the flush in the toilet. Fuck! At least I'm able to shower. I don't think I could bear to be dirty in London. It already feels like a gigantic toilet. Crossed with an advertising agency. An advertising toilet? Why not? Clever marketing idea! Out on the street, I see a bus with an advert on the side that says 'More Glitz! The Brent Cross Centre, feed your addiction'. Feed your addiction? Fuck, you mean become like that junky we saw last night at the filling station? Have drugs and celebrity become metaphors for everything in Britain? Are they marketing heroin yet? Welcome! Fuck!
The atmosphere didn't feel benign at all, nothing like soft, safe neon nights in Tokyo. `it felt brutal. Minicab sharks, cars pulling up behind pedestrians. You're in there, protected, and I'm out here, not. I'm just going to have to hope you have a good heart. People in hip hop hooded tops looking hard in kebab shops. It all feels like one of those Streets videos where a bunch of tanked-up British guys end up with blood streaming down their faces. 'Mate, mate, I don't want any trouble, mate.'
The kids in the next seat just said 'Bling bling!' The phrase is everywhere in Britain, an R&B-rap-pop fashion as widely adopted as the flash white sportsgear people wear on British streets, minus all the gold, silver and diamonds that stars like J-Lo and Britney accessorize it with. I open the Virgin Trains magazine. (Wow, marketing! Trains never used to have in flight consumer magazines! Then again, they once had basic services like running water and hot food.) There's an article about shopping in Birmingham. It begins 'Diamonds, platinum and all things bling lie ten minutes from the city centre in Birmingham's jewellery quarter...' Later in the journey, bored, I open the new tabloid Times and there it is in the financial section. 'Bling bling: fashion designer John Zhao shows off his crystal encrusted iPod'. Britain speaks fluent bling bling. Britain, from top to bottom, embraces the showy materialism. the 'I won, you lost' mindset of hip hop and R&B videos. Bling bling, I win!

I've noticed some of these things since coming here; the ubiquity of branding, often taking priority over other things (for example, anything to do with live music here has the Carling brand (which is a rather generic lager) slapped on it, and band venues have advertising billboards on the walls), the "ATM attendants" stationed beside every cash machine, trying to guilt the relatively well-off user out of one of their tenners, the chav kids looking hard and dead-eyedly cynical in their hip-hop thugwear (Burberry baseball caps worn under hooded tops, to hide faces from the ubiquitous CCTV cameras, seem to be a big part of youth fashion here), drunk arguments in the streets, with couples screaming "FUCK OFF, YOU FUCKING WANKER!" at each other, the dozens of different posters on every form of public transport, from buses to long-distance trains, warning passengers not to assault staff.

affluenza aggression anglocapitalism britain materialism momus thatcherism-blairism 2

2004/5/25

Teenagers in Britain are obsessively going to tanning salons in a quest to look like heroes/success symbols like "Posh and Becks".

Real Story features a 13-year-old girl from Liverpool, identified as a blackspot for tanorexics, who has been visiting tanning parlours up to five times a week for the past year. Hayley Barrow, whose grandmother has skin cancer, explained: "If I haven't been on one [a sunbed] for one day I feel white, I feel transparent."

(Interesting that she mentions feeling "white" as a negative consequence of not tanning enough; I wonder whether there is a racial-aspirational dimension to this; with black groups and artists dominating the charts in recent years and (if the BBC's quizzes are to be believed) British kids speaking fluent US Hip-Hop Ebonics amongst themselves, whether having heavily tanned skin makes today's kids feel more "ghetto" or at one with their adopted culture. Judging by young Hayley's photo (she looks more like a white actor from a less politically-correct decade in blackface than a suntanned celebrity), it doesn't seem too far-fetched.)

"They call it the Posh and Becks syndrome," said Andy Carr, organiser of the Elite Teens disco. They want the tans, they want the clothes, they want the money."

affluenza blackness celebrity chavs hip-hop tanorexia uk whiteness wiggers 0

2004/5/3

From today's Odd Spot:

A survey in a German car magazine has found that male BMW drivers have sex more often than owners of any other car - 2.2 times a week. Porsche owners have sex the least - 1.4 times.

...meanwhile, low-status individuals who don't own cars have little or no sex. Or perhaps, to quote Alex Torres, "Snazzy cars. Helping losers have sex since 1895."

On a tangent, a professor of creative writing recounts evading the seductive wiles of hordes of young, flirtatious female students, either after a good grade or, allegedly, the coming-of-age ritual of "doing the prof". For some reason, this doesn't seem to happen very much in computer-science institutions.

affluenza cars marketing sex status 7

2003/7/22

As more and more people look for love online, a new industry has arisen: online dating consultants. For a fee, they'll spruce up your profile (or write you a new one guaranteed to make your boring, unimaginative self look dazzlingly witty and original), and/or furnish you with a digital portrait guaranteed to reel 'em in. (via Techdirt)

A Los Angeles-based firm's site, www.e-cyrano.com, offers a choice of packages, ranging from a 40-dollar "bronze" service that provides basic profile editing to a 200-dollar "platinum" option where a personal consultant writes a profile from scratch and follows up with a 30-minute phone consultation.

Yes, Los Angeles sounds like the place for that kind of thing.

Despite the increasing popularity of online dating, Stricke says she often has to counsel people who are worried about the "loser" stigma that still sticks to the idea. "Some people are like, 'OK, I'm going to a photographer. Am I weird for doing that?' And I say, look, it's totally cool, everyone deserves a good photograph," she said.

So if you hire a consultant to write your online dating profile and pay a special photographer to give you that killer portrait people might think you're a bit desperate or insecure? Whyever so?

(Though, perhaps as increasing mobility and "labor-market flexibility" (read: longer and/or more unusual work hours) and the tendency to postpone marriage until long after leaving school/university take their toll on the traditional theatres of courtship, perhaps soon everyone will be looking for their next partners online; and thanks to the Red Queen Effect, the only way to not be a loser will be to hire the most cutting-edge dating consultants, armed with the latest techniques, to put yourself ahead of the competition who are using all of last week's hottest profile tips.)

affluenza dating love red queen effect relationships sex society 2

2003/6/15

Four years ago, the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, founded as a Buddhist sanctuary and acting as the model for the fictional Shangri-La, became the last nation to introduce television, giving Rupert Murdoch's Star TV the rights to broadcast imported entertainment programming to its citizens. Consequently, the crime rate skyrocketed:

"Until recently, we shied away from killing insects, and yet now we Bhutanese are asked to watch people on TV blowing heads off with shotguns. Will we now be blowing each other's heads off?"
The marijuana that flourishes like a weed in every Bhutanese hedgerow was only ever used to feed pigs before the advent of TV, but police have arrested hundreds for smoking it in recent years. Six employees of the Bank of Bhutan have been sentenced for siphoning off 2.4m ngultrums (£40,000). Six weeks before we arrived, 18 people were jailed after a gang of drunken boys broke into houses to steal foreign currency and a 21-inch television set. During the holy Bishwa Karma Puja celebrations, a man was stabbed in the stomach in a fight over alcohol. A middle-class Thimphu boy is serving a sentence after putting on a bandanna and shooting up the ceiling of a local bar with his dad's new gun. Police can barely control the fights at the new hip-hop night on Saturdays.

affluenza bhutan crime culture happiness hip-hop marijuana tv 1

2003/4/3

Are we seeing the end of egalitarianism in Australia, with public opinion shifting against welfare? Is this a product of "shareholder democracy", where everyone aspires to be rich, and poverty is seen as a character flaw, or of the ruling classes no longer needing to put up with profit-sapping welfare programmes to keep the poor from revolting now that the spectre of Communism has been banished? Will our future look like Brazil, with gated communities and shanty towns, or perhaps Dickensian England, with "poor laws" keeping the rabble in their place? Discuss.

affluenza australia egalitarianism society 5

2002/12/3

Read: Fuck Hip Hop, an article claiming that hip-hop as a form of cultural expression is dead, at the hands of the bejewelled, illiterate thugs who dominate the genre.

All one needs to do is watch cribs and notice none of these people showing off their heated indoor pools or the PlayStation Two consoles installed in all twelve of their luxury cars have a library in their home. Or display a bookshelf, for that matter. No rapper on cribs has ever been quoted saying: "Yeah, this is the room where I do all my reading, nahmean?"
Rappers reflect what has become a new image of success where money is its own validation and caring is soft unless you're dropping a single about your dead homie.

(via bOING bOING)

affluenza hip-hop materialism thug life 0

2001/10/8

A new crime wave is sweeping through affluent parts of Sydney; ultra-wealthy socialites are mutilating and poisoning trees in order to ensure uninterrupted views of the harbour from their palatial residences. The offenders are unconcerned about being caught, as the maximum fines are dwarfed by increases in property values thus gained, thus making illegal tree-poisoning a sensible investment.

affluenza corruption sydney 0

2001/8/6

Playing dress-up in Daddy's opera house, and drinking his liquor, after we'd wrecked his Benz: An incisive piece about the casualties of the dot-com boom, finding time to party outrageously in their gentrified San Francisco playground in between the hardships of having to find jobs paying a mere $40,000 a year, while around them, homeless beggars and crackwhores scramble to subsist.

Homeless woman slobbers yaaaaaaaaaggggggghhhhh, and shakes her head, and slides along the curb. It's extraordinary. We're all standing here in line, knocking at the gates of heaven, while huge numbers of the underclass moan about the block. We're like people at a picnic, ignoring the bees. Seventh St., and up to Market-everywhere around here, beyond the boundaries of the shiny light we exude, you've got the walking dead: hustlers hanging around overlit storefronts, guys weaving with bottles.
"Shit, I got laid off at 85 thousand, and just got a new job for 40."
"Forty?"
"That sucks."
Back in December of 1999, a prominent media critic wrote the following: "In the fifties and sixties, creative types all had a novel they were working on, and in the seventies and eighties, a screenplay. In the e-decade, you've got a business plan."

Oh, the humanity! (via Plastic)

affluenza dot-com boom san francisco 0

2001/5/15

Taking dressing to success to new extremes: in the US, executives and salesmen are having chin implants. The implants give a stronger, more confident-looking chin, and are very much in demand, partly because, in this age of lay-offs and labor-market flexibility, anything that gives you an advantage over the next guy could make the crucial difference.

"People with weak chins in the media are portrayed as embezzlers or as having weak characters," he said. "So a strong chin is very important. This has spilled over from film to industry with executives and even now salesmen who feel a strong chin would enhance their credibility."

Surely executive codpieces can't be that far off...

affluenza culture plastic surgery society status 0

2001/2/1

Seen in the sidebar on WIRED News: According to a poll by Progressive Auto Insurance in the U.S., 45% of Americans ranked their cars as the thing they considered most important in their lives (compared to 6% for their children, and 10% for spouses). 17% of respondents claimed that they would buy their cars Valentine's Day gifts. Reminds one of that "MAN MARRIES HIS MOTORCYCLE" news story/urban legend.

affluenza cars culture materialism usa 0

2000/7/28

Amusements of the obscenely wealthy: Some people are so wealthy that they can buy anything; consequently it takes extreme things to satisfy them. Take for example "The Bachelors", a transatlantic brat-pack of "rich kids", who have taking to drugging women, raping them and swapping videos of their conquests on the Internet. Make that a snuff film ring, and you've got a movie concept... (via Leviathan)

affluenza crime evil rape 0

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