Archive for April, 2008

The Rebel Sell

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

The Rebel Sell (2004) by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter

What a great read!

Joseph and Andrew argue that instead of capitalism and the “consumer culture” the basis of most problems of the (globalised) world are due to the inherently competitive behaviour of humans and in particular with the lack of understanding of prisoner’s dilemmas which tend to exacerbate said problems. Rather than self-restraint (which they argue is unrealistic — I agree) the solution is to limit competition via legislation and other enforceable rule sets. It is clear that this will curtail the individual’s freedom but for the common good. Very thought provoking and highly recommended! However, I very much agree with the Guardian Newspapers’s Review that at times the authors forget about the type of capitalism that exists outside of the USA which is a shame.

Despite some rather crude views and blanket statements, some of the stuff makes for beautiful quotes and I caught myself laughing out loud and/or nodding in agreement at many of their arguments. I’ll add a few later…

Lifestyles in London

Monday, April 14th, 2008

What a day :-) I’ve met five most different people throughout the day. Each one had their own story to tell and — as so often — I couldn’t really spend enough time with any one of them:

First I met a traveller disguised as sparky (electrician) who had his eyes set on spending a fair few weeks with a tribe in Bhutan where it is customary to wear a golden medallion depicting a head on a necklace for every kill of a rival tribe. Luckily there is a long standing treaty that makes sure “white people” are not touched… hm, surely interesting but not my kind of thing.

Soon after I had an insight (not literally!) that there definitely are people that don’t mind going commando with jeans… Though they expressed a preference for short trousers or light materials they definitely enjoyed the freedom offered when going without underwear. I feel quite free at times but the idea of cycling and going commando don’t really mix in my opinion. Mind you — there was the naked ride not so long ago and I was gutted I couldn’t join in.

At lunch time I had some food at a small cafe around the corner while reading The Rebel Sell — highly recommended — when I noticed an older lady trying to catch the title of my book. Before I knew it I was in the middle of laying out the books main arguments.

On my way home, carrying various treasures rescued from a demolition site, I got talking with David who sat around Tottenham Court Road hiding from the light rain hoping to scrap together enough to sleep at a shelter. After the typical “I’ll buy you something to eat” which he sort of declined we got caught up in conversation trying to figure out what options David had. After all it turned out that he used to be an electrician’s apprentice until an accident involving a car(?). I left him with a half-pint of milk I rescued earlier which he very much appreciated and almost raced back to the demolition site to get a pair of brand new site boots that were abandoned there.

No more than 30 meters further I meet a young girl asking for small change. Well, i just gave away my last few coins to David so I suggested they’d get together but she’d preferred to stay solitary — the idea of sharing didn’t appeal. She seemed unusually organised and knew the law and social services inside out. I couldn’t help her out but for some odd reason we had a chat anyway. Just as I was about to go she gave me a most cheeky smile and said: “Do you want to have a little bit of fun?” Now that did come as a surprise — I guess I am na├»ve — and all I managed to respond was “I am certain we could have fun but no thanks.” What really struck me was the stunning twinkle in her eyes when she asked me out of the blue. I could help laughing all the way to the tube station — what a day.

On the tube, while reading “The Rebel Sell”, a young guy wearing rather extravagant pink tights with a short green skirt and a large hat glanced my book and essentially said “well, yeah, we’re all fucked, right? Forget governments — they’re all corrupt.” A rational discussion wasn’t possible so I only interjected a couple of “hm, but the real issue is…” before being interrupted by his rather singe-minded world vision. After a few stops he jumped out while shouting: “check me out on myspace, i’ve got my own show, my name’s –” unfortunately I didn’t catch it.

Oh, I love London! I’ll miss walking through the streets and using the tube once my bike is back in shape.