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Garbage Everywhere

What refuse in India's streets reveals about America’s hidden trash problem
posted by infini on Jun 22, 2014 - 43 comments

A New Start

"Arrested Development's fourth season is triumphant when it's not completely falling apart." That seems to be the critical consensus, which sees the season as ambitious but flawed—a "hot mess", if you will. The American Prospectcompares Season 4 to the housing crisis; Daniel Fienberg simply calls the season's length "exhausting". But how has binge watching affected the critical response? Showrunner Mitch Hurwitz asked viewers not to watch the whole season in one glut: "[Y]ou can’t really laugh the whole time. You have to take a break. There’s so much material." Some critics agree with Hurwitz; others argue that this season is "essentially a 7-1/2 hour long episode" and that binge watching is the only way to appreciate the new show. (Sadly, Hurwitz's original plan—to have the new episodes be watchable in any order—fell through.)
posted by Rory Marinich on May 28, 2013 - 369 comments

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed

There is a curious feeling of power you get when you drop a couple of twenties without a trace of critical thinking. "Here in the West, a lifestyle of unnecessary spending has been deliberately cultivated and nurtured in the public by big business." [more inside]
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Apr 14, 2013 - 57 comments

"I realized we have a community of people that are highly informed but not *well* informed."

Eating Only Dessert: Why your information diet is probably terrible - "[Clay] Johnson is the author of The Information Diet, a book with a unique core metaphor: heavily processed information, like heavily processed food, isn’t healthy but for some reason we can’t get enough of it. Email. Social networks. Blogs. Online video. People today consume more information than ever before, and typically only consume the things they really, really like. Johnson compares this to a bad diet. “If you only ate what you want then we’d probably put the dessert section at the top of the menu, rather than at the bottom,” he says. “I think the same thing is happening with journalism: we’re going straight to dessert every time.”" PBS Newshour interview with Johnson (~6 min. video with full transcript). Previously: Who wants to hear the truth when they can hear they're right?
posted by flex on Oct 19, 2012 - 39 comments

"Before I gave up shopping, I bought a beautiful, pricey dress. I imagine it's made by a cute girl in Montreal who has to charge a certain price to keep herself in coffee, cigarettes & organic cotton.

Illustrator Sarah Lazarovic replaces clothes shopping with paintings and commentary on the dresses she did not buy.
posted by divabat on Aug 16, 2012 - 42 comments

the dawn of a Star Trek generation

In Praise of Leisure - "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 22, 2012 - 117 comments

More People + More Stuff = More Problems

"The world now has a very clear choice. We can choose to address the twin issues of population and consumption... Or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward vortex of economic, socio-political and environmental ills, leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future." Sir John Sulston, Royal Society Fellow on the Society's recent report "People and the planet". [more inside]
posted by nowhere man on May 4, 2012 - 63 comments

Total Annual Building Energy Consumption for New York City

An amazing piece of statistical analysis produced this zoomable (down to the block level) map of energy consumption for New York City, based on Spatial distribution of urban building energy consumption by end use. [via]
posted by unliteral on Feb 5, 2012 - 30 comments

Happinness Takes (A Little) Magic

Brian Lam, from the excellent resource the wirecutter, drops some knowledge about what it's like to live a bit more meaningfully. "I owe my livelihood to technology and I love the raw capability it offers us as a tool, but I fear it a bit more than most people do. It's a tool, but it's not quite a hammer, because a hammer doesn't seduce you into sitting around lonely in your underwear for 6 hours at a stretch clicking on youtube videos and refreshing Twitter.
posted by pwally on Feb 2, 2012 - 15 comments

paradigm drift

Commodity Prices and Paradigm Shifts - "The real paradigm shift, or more like a paradigm drift, because it is slowly enveloping us, is that we are moving toward preferences and lifestyle where we will simply consume less. A lot less... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 30, 2011 - 88 comments

you may say I'm a dreamer

-Only an 'energy internet' can ward off disaster
-We must electrify the transport sector [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 19, 2011 - 58 comments

Manipulation. Disintegration. Reflection.

Chris Jordan’s “Running The Numbers” series and its sequel, along with “Intolerable Beauty”, places collections of objects in arrays and forms to visualize consumer consumption and its effects: a globular cluster of lightbulbs showing electrical waste in the United States; a landscape of empty plastic bottles (two million, the number used every five minutes), an array of tiny Barbies graphing breast augmentations; Pollockesque designs of contrails and handguns representing flights and deaths. More information at Jordan’s TED presentation; he’s also noted for his post-Katrina photographs of New Orleans.

Related: Todd McLellan (Flash) photographs disassembled vintage objects, some in patterns, others caught mid-explosion. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Feb 20, 2011 - 7 comments

more of the same

Life after Capitalism - Beyond capitalism, it seems, stretches a vista of... capitalism: [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 25, 2011 - 33 comments

Peak Oil in Alaska

Recent exploration drilling and 3-D seismic surveys reveal the U.S. Geological Survey's optimistic 2002 assessment of Alaska's untapped oil reserves is actually off by about 90 percent. Oil and Gas Online explains the new geologic analysis and difficulty predicting petroleum reserves.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Oct 27, 2010 - 54 comments

And this little piggie was incorporated into over 185 different products...

Over the course of three years, designer Christien Meindertsma tracked the products that had been made from the remains of a single pig. In doing so, she discovered that the skin, bones, meat, organs, blood, fat, brains, hoofs, hair and tail of a single pig might be used in more than 180 very diverse products, from shampoo, medicine, tattoo ink, munitions, cardiac valves, matches, desserts and bubblegum, beer and lemonade, car paint and brake discs to pills and bread. TED Talk. TED Bio. Vimeo video: Reading through the pages of Pig 05049. Exhibition (in Dutch). Design Observer: Pig 05049. Amazon: Pig 05049 [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 20, 2010 - 24 comments

being a conscious and ongoing victim of yourself is maybe worse than being someone else’s

How downloading music has literally saved my life: a lightly punctuated personal essay about obesity and compulsion.
posted by rollick on Sep 10, 2010 - 26 comments

Look For Kidney Stones Next

What If Everybody in Canada Flushed At Once? The water utility in Edmonton, EPCOR, published a graph of water consumption last week. By now you’ve probably heard that up to 80% of Canadians were watching the Olympics gold medal hockey game between Canada and the USA. So, it stands to reason that they’d all go pee between periods. More from The Globe and Mail.
posted by netbros on Mar 10, 2010 - 56 comments

Escape from the Zombie Food Court

The American Hologram We suffer under a mass national hallucination. Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a “theater state.”
posted by idixon on Apr 23, 2009 - 207 comments

Mark Bittman talks to TED about what's wrong with what we eat.

Perhaps more widely known as the New York Times' "The Minimalist", Mark Bittman implores us to change the way we think about and consume food during his December 2007 talk at TED. The related NYTimes article. His NYTimes blog, "Bitten".
posted by blatant gizmo on May 31, 2008 - 9 comments

Making a point, the pigpen way.

This guy saved all his trash for an entire year. It amounted to 96 cubic feet. Perhaps not surprisingly, his message is conservation.
posted by desjardins on Dec 31, 2007 - 22 comments

Tis the season for stuff.

...you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. The story of stuff.
posted by allkindsoftime on Dec 5, 2007 - 61 comments

Environmentalism and the free market

Orion Magazine hosts a two-part essay on the environmentalism movement's attempts to fit within free market capitalism, and the problems therein. Part one, The Idols of Environmentalism, focuses on the cross purposes of capitalism and environmentalism, and the apparent impossibility of the two working together. In part two, The Ecology of Work, the focus is on the human impact of the work and consumption culture.
posted by knave on Apr 29, 2007 - 27 comments

You might be a Walmart shopper...

Proported [Leaked] Walmart Internal-Marketing Presentation. Hate Walmart? Well, you're now a Conscientuous Objector (14% of their market). Read up on the Price-Value Shopper, the Brand Aspirationals, and the Price Sensitive Affluents, and see if you can figure out where you are in the Walmart Universe.
posted by rzklkng on Mar 6, 2007 - 46 comments

Running The Numbers

Running The Numbers. This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. [via]
posted by Armitage Shanks on Feb 28, 2007 - 20 comments

Water Footprint

Water footprint - "of an individual, business or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation"
posted by Gyan on Jan 11, 2007 - 9 comments

Obsessive. Compulsive. Anything but Disorderly.

Some people keep track of their receipts. Others keep track of their goals. And then there's Nicholas, an artist/designer and DJ who chronicled his 26,059 iTunes tracks played, his 859.5 social drinks (including 293 Stella Artois) consumed, his 30,724 airmiles traveled, and, yes, his 49 cat photos in his own personal 2006 Annual Report. (via Coudal)
posted by Alt F4 on Jan 10, 2007 - 27 comments

Fashion!

"Our dress, therefore, in order to serve its purpose effectually, should not only be expensive, but it should also make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labor." The Piracy Paradox: why weak IP laws drive the fashion industry. Headscarves on the catwalk in Jakarta; Almaty Fashion Week draws to a close.
posted by stammer on Nov 29, 2006 - 5 comments

The Society for Leisure Lovers and Elegant Persons

To be a Sapeur in Kinshasa is to treat every trash-strewn alley or muddy street as a fashion catwalk. Inspired by Congolese rumba star Papa Wemba* and his Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants* (le Sape), urban peacocks cheerfully adopted "Religion Kitembo”, literally the worship of clothes. "The Pope of the Sapes" himself appears to have undergone a conversion since his recent legal troubles. Photo gallery by Héctor Mediavilla. *sound
posted by maryh on Nov 28, 2006 - 21 comments

My name is Henry

My name is Henry, and I am addicted to public radio. It's pledge drive time again here. If the 1-800 number for your local public radio station scrolls through your consciousness for weeks after the drive is over, or you have bad dreams about contribution gifts, you might want to see this site for a diagnosis. As for treatment, no support groups have yet been found.
posted by localhuman on Oct 21, 2006 - 29 comments

Consumption as art

Obsessive Consumption wants to know what you buy. Obsessive Consumption wants to know what you owe. Created by Kate Bingaman to showcase her love/hate relationship with money, shopping, branding, credit cards, celebrity, advertising and marketing, she documented all of her purchases for 28 months starting on January 22nd, 2002 and ending on April 22nd, 2004. Currently she is drawing a lot of her purchases and all of her credit card statements until they are paid off. Her Obsessive Consumption installation in Kansas City is particularly impressive.
posted by dead_ on Jul 28, 2006 - 9 comments

What will we do when oil crashes?

Resource wars and gas rations, what will be next ? I bet you didn't know we gobble oil like two-legged SUV's.
posted by graytopia on Aug 31, 2005 - 20 comments

where Psyop comes in

Psyop Anthem You'll never notice you are dyin' just as long as you keep buyin'. Unabashed pro-consumption animated short. [warning: 34MB mpeg. via everlasting blort]
posted by eddydamascene on Dec 5, 2003 - 16 comments

Miss a Payment, Triple Your Interest Rate

Americans are not going broke over lattes! Salon (warning: ad click-through required) interviews the author of a book who contends that American middle class overconsumption is a myth. This made me really think about how I relate to my $$$, and what I think is pushing me deeper into a hole. According to this author, kids are forcing people into bankruptcy, and it's not because we buy them gameboys and expensive clothes. The author also claims that credit card companies and mortgage lenders need to be regulated by the govt., as they are feeding off of middle class hardships. It's also making me wonder why real estate developers aren't building small homes anymore, at least in my state of the union.
posted by archimago on Oct 14, 2003 - 91 comments

Thorstein Veblen: Economist and Social Commentator

Thorstein Veblen, Economist and Social Commentator, who contributed to the common tongue the phrase conspicuous consumption.

Who was Thorstein Veblen--and why should anyone care?

I should like him for his writing style alone:

The appreciation of those evidences of honorific crudeness to which hand-wrought goods owe their superior worth and charm in the eyes of well-bred people is a matter of nice discrimination. It requires training and the formation of right habits of thought with respect to what may be called the physiognomy of goods. Machine-made goods of daily use are often admired and preferred precisely on account of their excessive perfection by the vulgar and the underbred who have not given due thought to the punctilios of elegant consumption. The ceremonial inferiority of machine products goes to show that the perfection of skill and workmanship embodied in any costly innovations in the finish of goods is not sufficient of itself to secure them acceptance and permanent favor. The innovation must have the support of the canon of conspicuous waste. Any feature in the physiognomy of goods, however pleasing in itself, and however well it may approve itself to the taste for effective work, will not be tolerated if it proves obnoxious to this norm of pecuniary reputability.

From Chapter Six - Pecuniary Canons of Taste of the work entire, The Theory of The Leisure Class. Feel free to consume conspicuously.
posted by y2karl on Oct 29, 2002 - 7 comments

Disposable Planet?

Disposable Planet? Find out how many planets we would need if everyone lived like you.
posted by zoid on Aug 21, 2002 - 62 comments

No shopping, no presents, no guilt!

No shopping, no presents, no guilt! End compulsory consumption by resisting xmas. It's never too early to start campaigning for next year.
posted by mathowie on Dec 29, 2001 - 65 comments

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day is November 24th. What do you think? Is this the right way to protest overconsumption?
posted by snakey on Nov 17, 2000 - 27 comments

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