While trolling about on the internet looking for material for the Affluenza post, I came across a great article at Utne. I think everybody saw those photos of Saddam’s statue being toppled in Baghdad on Wednesday. Turns out the entire event was staged by the U.S. military, and the comparisons to the collapse of the Berlin Wall are just a bit exaggerated. The entire area was cordoned off by Marines and the crowd was never more than 200 people tops – including the swarms of media personnel. The toppling occurred right outside the Palestine Hotel, location of the foreign press corps in Baghdad, so the media could have easy access. Even more appalling is the evidence that the crowd were actually anti-Saddam exiles, flown into Iraq only days before by the military. The entire thing was bogus.
Check out the real story at Information Clearinghouse. I will readily admit that the situation seemed odd to me at the time. Granted I do not have television access, but the photos I saw showed a small crowd, with some troubled looking Iraqis at the periphery. The entire thing troubled me at the time, especially the images of the Marine placing the U.S. flag upon the statue’s head. I can only imagine how galling the photo was to Arab nations.
With the storm coming ever closer, I am making an effort to empty my freezer of items that I will be unable to use once the power goes out. Namely, frozen pizzas and those prepackaged chicken kiev things, and microwave burritos. Frozen food.
After the typhoon, I will have a big bbq with the chicken, pork and short ribs sitting in there. That’s not a problem. Hell, everybody does that after a typhoon. Standard operating procedure.
Several years ago I watched a fascinating program on PBS: Affluenza. God, did that program hit home. The sickness that comes from having too much stuff. I look around my house and I realize I got too much stuff. Multiple computers, collections of things, sets of books, closets full of crap that I never use, yet I still collect more shit. Trying to fill the void of my life with possessions. There’s even a book, Affluenza, detailing the subject in more depth. The author of the book, John de Graaf, is also the producer of the documentary. The program suggests possible cures to this disorder. The message is basically to live a simpler, balanced life. Stop buying stuff. Take the bus. “Pretend the Jones’ are the thriftiest, least wasteful people on the block. Then try to keep up with them.”
There was an article in Utne Reader several months ago, analyzing this culture of consumption from a Marxist perspective. The Hidden Life of Garbage (sorry – it’s not free) documents how the landfill commoditized trash, making the reuse of discarded objects illegal and promoting consumption as a method to sustain the consumer economy. Interesting read. I’d suggest checking the local library for the back issue instead of shelling out a couple bucks to read it online though.
Anywho, I came across this editorial on the NY Times website today also written by John de Graaf. The basic gist of the article is how Americans work more than Western Europeans, and while we value things, they value time. Western Europeans take nine weeks of paid vacation a year, while Americans average two weeks. De Graaf finishes the article by announcing October 24 as the first Take Back Your Time Day, a day to reflect on the overworked and overscheduled lives we lead. October 24 was chosen because it is nine weeks before Christmas, representing the difference in lifestyles between Europe and America.