Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Is IKEA totally insane?

What are these people thinking?

I opened up my Chicago Tribune (which means I took out of not one, but two separate plastic bags an enormous pile of paper, some of which is news and most of which are ads) and found within it the 370-page 2007 IKEA catalogue. Glossy, heavy paper, full color, etc.

The Chicago Tribune has a Sunday circulation of 950,582.

So about 1,000,000 people received this very-expensive-to-print catalogue. And what will most of them do with it?

OK, honestly, I don't really know. Perhaps 950,582 Chicagoans have a strong attachment to IKEA (just one "Chicago-area" locations out in the Northwest suburbs) and will treasure this catalogue. Realistically, I've got to think that hundreds of thousands of these catalogues will be thrown away, not even recycled (Chicago's recycling program is a joke, a travesty, very pathetic).

What an awesome waste of money and disgusting addition to the region's landfills.

PS: If you don't have a 2007 IKEA catalogue, would like one, and live in the US, I will send mine to you. Please let me know (include address).

Profoundly distasteful

I watched Match Point last night (most recent Woody Allen movie). A very mediocre film; as I watched it, I thought to myself: "Surely, Woody Allen can write more interesting and original dialogue. And haven't I seen this movie before? Yes! The Talented Mr. Ripley!"

Anyway, the main, pschotic character marries into a rich family and gets his own chaffeur. And as I watched the driver open the limo door for this character and other members of the family, I found myself squirming uncomfortably.

What was making me uncomfortable? Ah, yes, the fact that this guy had a personal servant. That got me thinking about various things that I find profoundly distasteful.

So I thought I would share them with you (you are so lucky!). Here goes:

Personal servants: I am not a history major, but my understanding/belief is that part of what the colonists rebelled against in their war for independence was the ariostcracy that sucked the lifeblood out of British subjects. We don't officially have a inherited-wealth aristocracy anymore (though we will soon, if the estate tax is fully repealed), but it seems to me that the best way to define an aristocrat is a person who has personal servants. I find this really bothersome. I don't like to have people taking care of my personal needs. I am pschologically unable to let someone shine my shoes for me, for example. I am not convinced that there is a qualitative, rather than quantitiative, difference between personal servants and slaves. I sense that hiring someone to dress you, buy things for you, drive you around, etc., is a corrupting process. [ Having said all that, we pay a woman named Walentyna to visit our house weekly and clean up for us. So I am a hypocrite. Isn't that a part of being a human who is not a saint? ]

Commercials: I like to watch television programs -- way too much. So perhaps I am fortunate that I have close to zero tolerance for TV commercials and advertisements generally. I see it as a kind of bargain with the devil: we will give you "free" programming if you will subject yourself to our propaganda. I continue to be totally amazed that companies will pay billions of dollars to produce and distribute/present advertisements. I have probed deep within and truly believe that ads have a very minimal influence on my decision-making. But obviously ads do work -- companies would not throw away their money. Which makes me feel very sad for those whose minds are twisted around to follow the trail of compulsion to make purchases that they would otherwise not make. BMW makes a cool car ad, so I should then want to buy a BMW? Why would you trust or let yourself be influenced by anything you see in an ad? [ If you do not already know about Consumer Reports, visit and join this wonderful organization! Then you can skip the commercials, visit this website, and obtain an objective, thorough review and recommendation of things you want to buy. If millions of people joined CR, we could band together and publicly reject commercials...]

Laugh tracks: Even if I can make it past the ads to watch a TV program, if it has a laugh track, those sounds are like fingernails scratching a blackboard. I cannot abide being told when to laugh, what to find funny. It is a very subversive, low-level form of coercion.

"He (she) is such a good baby." I shudder every time I hear someone say this (especially if it is the parent of the baby). How can a baby be anything but good, wonderful, incredible, beautiful, astonishing? Really, babies aren't good or bad, they are just sponges soaking up the world, responding to stimulation.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Miss Congeniality 2006

I know, I know. It's been ages since I last posted.

It's because I am super, tremendously busy, and I should tell you all about that.

And because I am so super, over-the-top busy, I have to stay very focused.

But here I was just a moment ago staring at Miss Congeniality 2006.

What is my excuse and why am I telling you about it? Okay, you said you wanted to know.

I zipped over to MyYahoo to check the latest headlines, see how many more innocents had been killed by Israel's ferocious, unconscionable bombing of Lebanon, and by Hezbollah's own set of war crimes: shooting missiles at Israeli towns.

And there, the word Puerto Rico caught my eye:

Miss Puerto Rico crowned Miss Universe, collapses

A few years ago, we bought an old coffee farm (derelict, really just a small out of the way mini rain forest) on the western side of Puerto Rico. So I am interested in all things PR.

Well, I followed the link, eventually ending up at I noticed the Miss Congeniality prize and, having enjoyed Sandra Bullock tremendously in Miss Congeniality 1 and been horribly disappointed in Miss Congeniality 2 (a perfect example of a movie which definitely does not warrant a sequel!), I had to take a look at Miss Congeniality 2006.

As one might expect, Angela Asare of Ghana is absolutely stunning.

But I must admit to you, she doesn't look all that congenial. I find it very amusing that the Miss Universe entity would use this photo for her Miss C award....

Anyway, back to work, tell you about it soon!

Oh and congratulations to Zuleyka Rivera! You are welcome to visit my old finca any time....