Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gift Flow

Some friends of mine from Yale have started an amazing new site: The idea is a 'gift economy': instead of money, people trade or give away goods and services. No money is needed.

Have you ever heard that money is the root of all evil? I had, but hadn't really thought about it. But like so many cliches that I assumed were not true because so many people said them so often: (the truth must be some sacred unreachable unknowable thing, right?...) it turns out that it is absolutely true. We have abstracted all value from goods and services by placing 'monetary' value on things. Most of us already have the inclination that money is a corrupting force: after all, that's why we pay teachers and social workers and non-profit workers absolute shit, because we have the feeling that if you are 'working for the money' then your motivations are in the wrong place.

And what about all the people that dedicate their lives to making as much money as possible? Could it be that it is not actually a fulfilling occupation? Money eradicates the need of people to try and discover what they, as an individual, could offer of value into the economy and instead plugs them into to 'money-making' careers that have nothing to do with their individuality. Not to mention the whole marketing, advertising and promotional section of our economy, which basically just uses psychological tricks on people so that low-quality goods are shown to be 'worth' more money for superficial reasons.

Money ruins all kinds of things, and it's a force to be fought against, not just a reality we have to accept. I'm not arguing that without a monetary system we could have gotten to where we are in terms of technological advancement, etc. But we are certainly at a point now where we can afford to back away from our addiction to money, and see where it takes us. So is a good place to start.

If you are interested in the site and want to show your support, please click here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Heidi Montag and The Hills

I just watched an episode of the Hills that was so disturbing. In case you have been living under a rug/have a healthy relationship to the dribble that passes as reality television these days (as in you avoid it at all costs), Heidi Montag, a character/'real person' on MTV's signature semi-reality shows had 10 plastic surgeries done, effectively turning her into a Barbie.

It's not that plastic surgery on a reality show surprises me--but rather what happened afterwards, when Heidi visited her mom. The reality show went with Heidi on her trip, and captured perhaps the most real moment that has ever been on the show. Here's my interpretation, in quotes:

Mom: Why do you think you have to look like everyone else?
Heidi: I was never going to be happy with the way I looked until I fit exactly into the Hollywood-definition of beautiful
Mom: But you were so beautiful and confident before you went to LA and all this "STUFF" happened.
Heidi: Are you saying that I don't look good? (crying)
Mom: (crying) I don't want to say that you don't look good, since what's done is done, but I just feel so sad that you went through "THIS"
Heidi: (crying) You have no idea what I have been through. You don't know how hard "IT" is for me.

So what is 'this' 'stuff' or 'it'? Obvious to anyone with half a brain, being on the show the Hills. I don't think Heidi is innocent, she has certainly done whatever she could to get her piece of the spotlight and that isn't MTV's fault. And yet, I really do think there is something wrong with a television show basically recording as a girl gets manipulated by an insane man (Spencer) and gets an insane amount of plastic surgery, all while pretending the show itself has nothing to do with the decisions she is making. Why is it okay for 'reality' television to basically ruin individuals lives and then keep recording as if the shit show had nothing to do with them?

I guess what I'm wondering is where do we draw the line. Can we let people consent to anything? What would people say if they created an AIDS reality show, where they could infect individuals with the virus and then record what happened to them? That seems wrong--since it's a physical harm. But what the fuck. If as you are recording someone they develop a mental illness and ruin their life because of the attention you are putting on them, it's just okay to keep going? Jon and Kate plus 8 are another great example of this. I shudder to think how those kids are going to turn out now. And the show was on THE LEARNING CHANNEL.

We have a bias against mental suffering, probably because we are still somewhat conditioned to believe that mental illness is self-caused and can be self-cured. Which is true in a sense, but there is no denying that being brought into the media spotlight causes mental and emotional problems, which are then exploited further and promoted by the show, which continues the cycle until it escalates to situations like Heidi and Spencers. This is wrong, and television producers should be held accountable.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Palm Reading for the Senior Nearing Graduation

You have very deep and varied lines. This indicates a passionate nature, you tend to absorb yourself completely in whatever activity is currently on your mind, and you can’t let it go until you fully explored every part you were interested in. You have a way of pushing a situation until it goes deeper than most people are comfortable with. But you get along with most people, who appreciate the intensity you can bring to a situation.

Your life line is the curved line that goes around your thumb. Yours is very deeply entrenched with your head line, indicating that you are deeply connected with your family/your home, may still be providing a lot of support to you or you may be involved in supporting them still. This connection has brought you some uncertainty at the start of your life but as you mature you are starting to see yourself as your own person, separate from your origins. Eventually this conflict will come to the large fork at the end of your life, and after a period of deep misgivings you will successfully forge a balance between connection to home and independence.

Your head line is the short line that goes across the middle of your palm. Yours is crossed right in the middle by your fate line and is somewhat short, indicating that there is a moment in your life in which you completely adopt a certain way of looking at things, and this new perspective will completely shape the rest of your career and mental life.

Your heart line is incredibly deep and wide, almost like a crack. This indicates that you tend to become completely absorbed by your emotions, almost to the point that you are not able to respond reasonably to them. You should be proud of yourself for your ability to feel things very viscerally, but learn not to wallow, which just leads to self-centered behavior.

Want me to read your palm? I will read your palm for $5.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Death Bear Video!

Woo! Death Bear made a video of us giving away our stuff! Featuring me Spencer Adam Mark and Anya!