Things

Moss, notably the glowblow lamp, designed by SnowCrash. Yes, a design house named after a novel. An expensive design house.

As to things in my range, my worldly posessions are migrating from one house to another, very slowly. One day, one bag, at a time. No furniture yet. Eventually I will post on Craigslist and try to get someone else to take my lease. I fear it will not be easy– I like my apartment, and got a good deal on it, because it’s an unpopular sort of place: tiny, overheated, lead-based, with clunky fixtures and too many damn stairs.

I went to a wedding this weekend. There were fireworks, but I don’t know if the fireworks were part of the wedding, or if they were just there by happy coincidence. Conspicuous consumption, indeed. Everything was beautiful, the day was lovely, the evening fell and there was much rejoicing, and the elders danced beautifully while the younger set shook and jiggled halfheartedly, wishing they’d invested the time, and more importantly, the un-self-consciousness and risk of sincerity, in learning how to dance and then dancing.

Scootering

You ever wonder why people soup up their underpowered cars or bikes? Because tinkering is fun. You could buy the off-the-shelf power. But stock is boring. Much better to buy cheap and spend that much again to upgrade and modify. The modification is the whole point– not the end product, but the difference between the end product and what you started with. You could buy a faster bike or computer, but overclocking holds a special appeal, just like scooter tuning. I get annoyed when people make fun of the type-R stickers and so forth, even if I acknowledge that they’re silly at best and trashy at worst. Performance tuning (don’t call it “ricing,” a term which is racist as well as just generally insulting) is, essentially, a hack, and therefore worthwhile, even if, and often because, it has no real purpose.

Tobacco and Prisons

WSJ reported earlier this week that with more places banning smoking in prisons, it’s putting something of a crimp in the budget. Apparently commisaries put a 30-60% markup on smokes in prison, and that money pays for things like books, exercise equipment, and holiday parties. Like the lottery, tobacco is a vice that the state often depends upon.

I thought recently of a good argument for having a state lotto: a state-sponsored lottery tends to drive illegal gambling out of business, or at least make it much less profitable, because your average punter will go for that instead of a bookie. It may be just as bad for people, but at least it’s nonviolent and regulated and the money goes into the state budget instead of into gun-running operations.

Really Big Ripoff

Via Nedia, there’s a StayFree magazine reprint of an old LAT article about super-sizing. Well, how about supersizing your social life with Friendster? Or was that
supersizing your social life with Ringo? Ringo of course is trying to super-stretch their ad budget by paying $1000 to a freelancer to make a campaign, and calling it a contest instead of an RFP.

That’s not as much of a lame ripoff as trying to trademark the number 22. Pimpercrombie and Bitch seem to have forgotten that time that Intel suddenly realized it didn’t own the numbers 486, 586, or 686, and having to come up with… “Pentium.”

Well, even without brands, science will find ways to make us buy. Supersize on, dude!

Consuming

Two neato articles: What Sex and the City owes to the Golden Girls, placing the hott HBO series in historical perspective, and a quick critique of Boy Meets Boy.

First, the girly show: I’m hooked. I don’t even have a TV. I watch it every week at Megan’s place (followed by The Wire for a dose of testosterone.) But the article is correct in stating that the real pull of SaTC is the friendship among the women, and that it’s the friendship which makes the show so enduring. Each of the women sems to represent different facets of contemporary femininity; their interrelationships form a more complex whole that makes the show infinitely more watchable.

Secondly, the dating show: six episodes, fifteen suitors, some undisclosed number of which are not really interested. If a straight guy fools the bachelor, the faker gets a million bucks and the bachelor gets dissed. Nice. Says MediaLife: “the fact remains that the premise is undeniably cruel and seedy.” Now that you put it that way, I’m almost tempted to watch. It’s the pull for shows like Change of Heart, Joe Millionaire, and, for that matter, Candid Camera: we know something they don’t. It’s dramatic irony reduced to tragic sarcasm.

My Crackpot Economic Theory Again

OK, I have written to Semi-Daily Journal and the Wall Street Journal and now to the Economist with my crackpot economic theory. This is becoming a ridiculous quixotic campaign. I re-edited the letter to make it more Economist in style– that is, snarkier and more subtle:

Sirs:
Your article “Judges Come Out for Gays” (June 19, 2003) neglected an important argument for the recognition of gay marriage: deregulation. The wedding industry in North America is in trouble due to a relatively static number of weddings each year. Allowing gay marriage will expand the wedding pool and benefit the wedding industry (and retailers who host wedding registries).

The US wedding industry has not yet recognized the threat to its competitiveness, but it will once US homosexuals start taking their wedding dollars northward. Soon, the Republican party will be faced with yet another split in its constituency: neoliberals who would deregulate marriage, and religious conservatives who would restrict yet another avenue of commerce to a class it favors morally.