Friday, 30 January 2009
Thursday, 29 January 2009
With ponderance, the demise of the Garden Gnome in the midst of this economic crisis could be quite ominous. On an environmental front, the Garden Gnome is the great protector of wildlife, and might indicate the dwindling importance of green issues and global warming. Butterflies beware!
The gatekeepers of fine taste have banned the Garden Gnome from the Chelsea Flower Show for a few years, making the Garden Gnome a class issue, as Brits tend to do.
The Garden Gnome is kitsch, pure and simple. Kitsch has a particular appeal to little old women and gay men. Both groups represent a good amount of disposable income for folly. Kitsch lovers divide into two classes, with the former class, made up mostly of little old women, representing the original derivation of the word. The whimsy that provides an unsubtle sentimentality, a heart on a sleeve, a kind of un-intellectual aesthetic response of pure emotion. The second group of kitsch lovers, primarily gay men but with some seepage into other parts of the population, see kitsch as a kind of irony. The drama of badness is a mask for the same kind of sentimentality but with a ponderous element. In other words, they deconstruct their kitsch. It is a love of sentimentality as an idea rather than unedited sentimentality itself. And, the third rare group - the ultra-kitsch-ers, deconstruct it, lose the irony, and love it with a straight face.
So, why then, is kitsch out of fashion? Some say kitsch is aspirational - a mere copy of something that was extraordinary reduced to mass-production and offered to the masses. Which makes it a no-no in a class-based society. And a no-go for the new austerity as aspirational has acquired a particularly bad name of late. As for the sentimental element of kitsch - emotion was certainly out for a long while in the art world, post abstract-expressionism when conceptualism came to reign. In parallel, kitsch came backheavily into the art world, via Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons amongst others. Following that, the ultra-kitsch-ers came into popularity in the art world in a big big way in the last decade. So where are we now, with a failed Garden Gnome business and what does that mean for the world-at-large?
Hegel saw kitsch as a kind of false nostalgia. I think that is where we are now. We crave real nostalgia in times of instability. If the Garden Gnomes disappear for long enough, they will be transformed culturally back into real nostalgia.
Now - will the same kind of thing work for banks?
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
At the private mostly-girls school we were informed that the Victorians worked very hard and had mean teachers who beat them. They studied hard by the light of kerosene lanterns and did fancy embroidery. The only employment suitable for females was teaching.
At the boys private school we were told that the Victorians were poor and dirty. Vermin ran rampant through the city and death and disease were common.
At the state school this morning the presentation highlighted that the Victorians marched to improve workers conditions. Victorians also won the rights to free education for children by protesting. Collective action was the predominant theme.
Amazing. Reminds me of childhood dinnertime conversations between my Conservative Libertarian father and my Hippie Democrat Mum.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Monday, 26 January 2009
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Monday, 19 January 2009
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Saturday, 17 January 2009
Friday, 16 January 2009
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Monday, 12 January 2009
Saturday, 10 January 2009
Friday, 9 January 2009
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Missmarketcrash has just the thing for you this morning! An Estate Agent from sunny California is keeping himself nice and busy with tours of foreclosed homes. As he has few buyers to show homes to, he has taken to walking about with a camera and talking to himself....
Thanks due to Calculated Risk!
Monday, 5 January 2009
After a full day with my children and a peek at the news, the theme of the day appears to be behavior prediction and its associated theories and models. Whether mathematical, scientific, sociologic or with some other base, the methodology of behavior prediction is only questioned when one disagrees and has enough knowledge of the topic to dissent.
Generally, that leaves The-Man-In-The-Street with an article in the newspaper or a magazine which he reads as The Truth as it was ascertained by some important sounding technique, be it an analysis of market performance by assessing the long tails and short noses of a PanGaussian analysis, or, Gina Ford's monotone approach to understimulated child-rearing. In short, we are assured by the opinions of experts.
So, when there is an Issue where one would like to predict or influence an outcome, whether it the markets, world economies, Gaza, my children -- most would rush to well-worn models, theories and and experts - rushing the past through the brains of todays experts. America is very very good at doing that -- "The Past" is a more important concept to a young nation and so it is held in high esteem. More astute critical thinkers sit around doing the same, but, challenging the foundations of these theories, methodologies and, well, perhaps coming up with something new. And that innovation will more than likely dissent from the norm.
The situations currently under the worlds ponderances are very much off the norm. Things may look familiar, but, that is the mistake - seeing markets, world economies, Gaza, anything really - through the lense of the familiar puts a bit of a blinder on perceptions. And so, to follow, look closely. What is happening now with regard to economics and everything that swirls around that is a completely new situation that we have never experienced before.
So, drawing those two points together - looking closely, and, challenging the foundations-of-things-that-are-used-to-explain-things is not a terribly mind-shattering thing to say, but to listen and think off the norm might well be the helpful way - and as to behavior prediction with regard to humans, this kind of thinking requires bravery and is generally the road not taken.