Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
The common people; the masses.
On the list of Things I Don’t Get, the iPod is #6. It’s an electronic appliance, which means a lot of things to me. It’s supposed to involve a medium-high initial investment, and then the value of that investment is supposed to decline sharply over time. In exchange for this rapid asset deterioration, you’re supposed to get back convenience and functionality. And in the case of the iPod family of products…zowee. Lots of bread. Lots of amortization. Five hundred clams or so, to get in. Functionality? Practically nothing. It plays tunes, yipee.
Now, this belongs on the list of Things I Don’t Get, not some corresponding list of Things That Are Scams, because there really is something I don’t get about it. I think. So the guys at work were educating me about this…except, I wasn’t learning an awful lot from the experience, and I got the distinct impression the information was flowing in the opposite direction, with the horseshoe arrangement around me trying to figure out what makes me “tick.” In that enterprise, I’m afraid for most of the session I was a big disappointment to them. One thing I said, though, raised some eyebrows.
I said that based on what little I knew about iPods, if I were to be placed in a position where I had to pronounce my impressions about them, my impressions would come down to this: It looked to me like a case where parents should intervene. I don’t think parents should allow kids to even want one, let alone give them one.
Most people aren’t going to agree with me. But on the concept of parental intervention, and the limited application of such, I think most people do agree with me. When do parents intervene? Sometimes; not always. Kid forms a taste for scary movies: No; butt out. Kid wants Milk Duds for breakfast, lunch and dinner: Yes, put your foot down. Kid learns to interact with other kids: No. Kid wants to beat the crap out of other kids: Yes. Kid likes a certain girl at school: No. Kid wants unprotected sex with her: Yes. For the most part, we all agree with this. Parents let things happen however they will sometimes, not at other times. On when a parent should butt in, the family values are sovereign even though the rest of the community may chafe at the choices made. At some point, the community may overrule the sovereign family.
So we “all” agree on the rules. Or most of us do.
Here’s the opinion I have where most people might disagree.
I think iPods are an example of parental intervention being needed. Kids shouldn’t want ‘em. And if they do want them, the parents should speak up and infuse the maturing mind of the principles and values it is lacking.
Yeah that seems really crazy, I know. But wait awhile; hear my argument. The kid, somewhere between 10 and 13, wants an iPod. What does the kid want out of the iPod? “All the other kids have one.” Okay, kids have wanted things other kids already have, probably for as long as there have been kids. But there’s something going on here beyond that. All the kids, after all, do not have an iPod. If they did, the appeal would go away, because there wouldn’t be an allure involved in having one. If you still can’t see where I’m going, try this. Take a pre-teen who wants an iPod because all the other kids have one, and get him something all the kids had a couple of years ago. There ya go! All the other kids are tired of looking at the damn thing, and you’ve got your very own copy of it for the first time. Now you get to go to school and tell all those other kids “Look at me! I finally have one too!”
He’ll hide it. I guarantee it. All parents of teenagers, reading this, know I’m right. The fashionable teen or pre-teen, wants to fit in…and be “hip.” Which means special. Which means not fitting in too much. So there is a tightrope to be walked here. There’s a balance.
So no, this isn’t about having something everybody else has. It’s about being better than everybody else. Now, this presents us with two problems: First, the child is equating “carp at someone with money until they buy you something” with “achieve something worthwhile.” Those are two different things, and it seems obvious that between here and adulthood, the child should be learning that. But I wish to remain disciplined in the scope of my bitching here, so let’s set that one on the back burner. The second problem we have is with this so-called “balance” mentioned above. It’s not really a balance. It’s a wretched mutation that contradicts itself internally. The child wants to be better than all of his peers; but at the same time, he wants to be just like them. I have a smartphone that came out on the market two years, maybe eighteen months ago. It’s not very fashionable anymore. But it does a lot more than what the iPod does, and is therefore “better.” Would a fashionable teenager be interested in something like that? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count. So, again, we’re off on the wrong track. It’s not about being better. It’s about being the same. Except better. But not so much better that the other kids wouldn’t understand it. Better-ish. Uniquely similar. Extraordinarily ordinary. Looking just like everybody else…except doing a better job of looking like everybody else, than what anybody else is doing. Yeah. That’s where it’s at.
Therein lies the contradiction. When your goal in life is built around a contradiction, you are destined to be unhappy. How can you not be? Ever?
How are all those other kids supposed to admire you? “There goes Bill, I wish I was just like him. He does a better job of being just like everybody else, than anybody else I know.” Oy, it’s enough to give you a headache. It’s like the “man who wasn’t there” poem.
Now, skip back a few paragraphs and go over that list of scenarios under which parents should intervene…and the other ones under which parents should not. What’s the common pattern? What’s the defining criteria? Speaking for myself, I would say when the child begins to labor toward goals that, in the long run, are going to leave himself and others around him unhappy and unfulfilled — that’s when the parents should be jumping in. That’s when their superior experience with life, is needed. Once the parents have begun to so intervene, and the tone of the intervention is “He’s doing things that will keep him from being a carbon copy of me, so I have to make him more like me,” I would say that is when the line has been crossed and the parents should butt out.
Speaking as a parent, I can say with authority that this is a tricky line. But you have to get to know it. You have to let your child develop his own personality, do things that he thinks are right. If he isn’t given the latitude to do this, he won’t be able to develop the skill set needed to develop a sound method of judgment. But his goals, whatever they may be, should make enough sense so that success is at least possible. If not, parental interference is required, whether it’s welcome or not.
And the iPod represents a life-goal, a way of noodling out throughout one’s mortal existence, where success is not possible. It is an objective of “superior conformity.” Extraordinary ordinary-ness. A self-contradicting goal with the potential to blossom into a whole lifetime of unhappiness. Haute Monde Hoi Polloi. As parents, we do not necessarily have the job of making our children happy, but we should make sure, by the time they become adults they at least have what is needed to achieve that on their own. Too many children have already reached adulthood as Haute Monde Hoi Polloi, doomed to wander through life unfulfilled as their various ambitions in life battle out the internal contradiction therein. OMYGAWD, I’m too much like everybody else! OMYGAWD, I’m too different! And so back & forth they go. Unsatisfied, in perpetuity.
We have a lot of businesses that have been self-positioned to make handsome profits off this mental weakness, but a mental weakness is what it is, and there’s nothing desirable about it. It is rooted not in psychological injury or lack of sanity, but simple immaturity. This is the kind of situation parents are supposed to help prevent.
Now, where was I going with that. Ah, here we go…
On Thursday morning approximately 50 customers were lined up outside the Wal-Mart in West Bend. The customers were waiting to purchase Sony Playstation 3 game consoles.
At 7 a.m. an assistant manager of Wal-Mart announced to the waiting customers that the store anticipated getting only 10 of the game consoles. The game consoles are first available for sale at 12:01 a.m. this Friday.
The assistant manager explained he was going to put 10 chairs out, and the first 10 customers to get to the chairs would be eligible to purchase the game consoles when they go on sale.
The assistant manager then lined up the 10 chairs outside the store and directed the waiting customers to another area outside.
He then gave a signal for the customers to run to the chairs.
As the customers ran to the chairs a 19-year-old male ran into a pole and struck his head injuring himself. The 19-year old was conveyed to an area hospital where he is being treated.
Chris Friedrich was one of the 10 people to reach the chairs but he was also hurt.
“I went flying in there. I got shoved in my seat I hit my head. I bruised up my knee pretty bad.”
The matter is being investigated, but there is no current evidence of any criminal activity.
Criminal activity, sheesh.
Now, once again. You got a PS3…people want that. They will injure themselves for it. You got something that isn’t a PS3, but does everything the PS3 does, people would not want that. You got a PS2, that would be okay, but people wouldn’t be willing to get beat up over it. Promise someone a PS3 a year from today, people would take it for maybe a hundred bucks. Maybe a little more. They may or may not leave the house for that.
It’s the desire to have what everybody else has, to acquire it when you’re supposed to acquire it, but be better than everybody else; to be in a club all by yourself, but nevertheless to rate yourself based on the adulation you get from others, and therefore to let other people decide how much you are worth.
The worse this gets, the more empty and unfulfilled people are going to be. I don’t know if we are going to recover from this. History suggests not.
Update 11/18/06: Via this blogger, we come across a handy compilation of the three highest bids on e:Bay for a 60GB PS3 gaming console, $15,000 and up.
This complicates things significantly. For one thing, there’s a certain opaqueness to the phenomenon — we can never know for an absolute certainty, what it is we’re seeing. Obviously, the market is flooded with buyers who have no intention whatsoever of owning a PS3 console themselves, and just want to turn the thing around for a quick profit. Capitalism at it’s finest.
I wonder who these people are who bought it for fifteen large. Did they really want one?
What does a $15k price tag have to do with Haute Monde Hoi Polloi? Perhaps when you get that high, it has more to do with speculative investing…with emphasis on the “speculative” part. Really high-risk investment stuff. It’s simply the kind of thing you expect to have happen with any hot commodity.
And yet, what makes it hot? New technology comes out all the time. The gaming consoles are unique in this class of events, because their financial worth is a derivative of the gravitas. It is “normal” enough that people recognize the name, and sufficiently unique that it’s still highly difficult to get your mitts on one. What the damn thing does, for the most part, nobody really has a clue…at least, they can’t get into specifics about it…certainly, functionality doesn’t have much to do with the market demand.
We have so many ways for buyer and seller to communicate with each other, and this is what sends the asking price shooting upward into the stratosphere. If the fifteen thousand dollar bidder is a middleman, he has a good chance at coming out ahead in this thing; at least, even odds. That is a sign of health for our society. And yet, still, it’s a toy. Sometimes, things come out on the market that are tools that can actually do useful things. What we see happening with the PS3, for the most part, doesn’t happen with them (PS3′s built-in blue-ray DVD player notwithstanding). No, for the most part, we see this phenomenon happen with toys…not tools.
And that is not a sign of health. It’s a sign of lunacy. The folks who wring their hands with worry about these $15k bidders, giving voice thoughtlessly to cliches like “people are stupid,” are probably wrong. A lot of these higher bidders must know what they are doing, or at least have an idea of what they want to do. But I’m on board with those cynics about the state of our civilization in general. We are in an infected and gangrenous state. We are in a state of rapid collapse. We are just about where Rome was as it was running low on lions and Christians.
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