Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Kin is Dead

I can see why the Kin is being discontinued. I love social networking, but 'a phone to manage your social life'? Really? What people want with a phone is versatility- we play games, go on twitter, take phone calls and text messages... what we don't want is something that seems like a gimmick when there are perfectly fine phones that do what the Kin was promising better

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is this model sustainable?

red stars

The race to the bottom for the cheapest wages, massive unemployment, and a lack of concern for the environment? We spend a lot of cash throwing it at big rich companies and people and hoping that they'll throw some of that largess back down at us. Maybe instead of trickle down, we can trickle out- share goods and services more. This system here is breaking down for many people.

Even in China, where the high educational investment[there's no mention of debt, but in the US, huge educational debts are a growing problem] and low wage model combine, there are worries about social unrest as the people thrown out by that system fight back.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Small Business and Being a Good Neighbor


A lot of folks try to run on championing small businesses, but I want to know what sort of small businesses we are touting as the backbone of America? Are we touting the sort who exploit undocumented workers? The sort who will ask the worker to 'hold' their check while late fees pile up on their bills? The sort who pay so little their workers need to apply for public benefits? I'm all for small business, but with the priviledge of running a business comes responsibility.

I don't think a small business can thrive without paying attention to the larger community they serve. People say we should give huge tax breaks, and loosen regulations, but if the community then has decaying infrastructure, schools without any books, and poisonous waste everywhere, I don't really think that's a gain at all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rural Farms, Urban farms

I was stuck in the country

Are big city markets draining small local markets? I don't know. In Memphis, we have about five farmer's markets in the area, and sometimes I find that it's cheaper to go to the farmer's market than it is to the supermarket.

Lately, I've been attempting to garden- my veggie death toll is about 3[2 rosemary plants and an oregano] and my black krim tomato is on its last legs. Gardening is hard work! It's all well and good for my city bound self[the post picture is from a day I spent in the country. I was really bored] to talk about getting back to the land, and fresh veggies and suchlike, but people's priorities aren't shaped by pure bloody mindedness- there are reasons, and when we learn about them, we can help push farmer's markets more in the country.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Wish I Was a Cheapskate

basil with a cherry

I wish I was a cheapskate! One of the issues keeping me from being a cheapskate is that I have a great difficulty resisting sales. Give me a coupon for 40% off, slash the price of remainder books to 3.99 or 50 cents...and I'll buy and buy. Another issue is that I have a lot of consumption heavy hobbies. Manga, video games, reading... For manga, I try to use coupons and the used market to reduce the price, and video games I rely on casual gaming[such as big fish games' 6.99 games] and the used market to reduce the price, but I do spend a lot of money on entertainment. Netflix eases the bite of movie watching by replacing $10 movies with $18 subscription, but that's still a lot of consumption.

And of course, there's the elephant in the room- jewelry making! I try to reduce by recycling components from older designs, but this week, I had a custom order, so I sprinted to Michaels[coupons in hand], and bought a few extra supplies to fill it. Of course, there's always something that catches your eye, so I got at least 3 unnecessary items.

I think there are a few traits a cheapskate needs to have: patience, lack of novelty seeking, and delayed gratification. Delayed gratification goes without saying, and patience is part of that- patience to cook up a meal when all you want is some filling and tasty takeout. Lack of novelty seeking would really help for people who consume to gain experiences. My theory is that some people consume for utility[the cheapskates], some for status, and others for experiences- and the latter is where I fall.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh American Apparel!

Warning: All links have American Appeal style photos on them.

Gawker has a humorous list of their grooming standards. Also notice that the female example photos are mostly from the porno aesthetic and the male ones are not porno style.

Oh yea, and your advancement in he company is determined by how you look! I wonder if that's even legal.

American Apparel acts like it isn't trashy, and is somehow worried about getting trashy black girls[wut?] but I see you, American Apparel, with your website that had me looking at a lady's naked bum just so I can see a pair of socks!

And I agree with the commenters who bet they would be shocked if they saw some actually nappy natural hair as opposed to 'curly'. *admits that I don't have 'curly' hair- I have nappy hair, which I keep natural*

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blogging Consumption

piles of chips

Inspired by the book Obsessive Consumption, a sweet little volume full of adorably rendered pictures of products, which delighted me both with its banality and the fact that she has fun hipster taste, I think sometimes I'll blog my consumption too. My mind is taking a detour, so stay with me. With the book Obsessive Consumption, I had a hard time deciding whether to file it as a comic or as a prose book. It has very few words, and almost all pictures, so that's one check for the comic side, but on the other hand, my comics are all narrative... I stuck it in the comics, and of course, with any decision you make, your mind automatically starts justifying it, and now I think the chronological nature of the drawings creates a sort of narrative.

Back on the topic, the item I wanted to blog today is a black ruled moleskine notebook. I bought it because I had a 40% off coupon at Borders. I had intended to buy Pandora Hearts 2, but after overindulging at the library[you would have overindulged too! Thousands of books! $3 at the most! I filled up a box.], I decided to go practical.

The boygirlparty notebook that I have been using for months is filling up. I needed a new notebook, so I got a black moleskine- the black cover seems professional, and so it is well suited to pretending to take notes. I had a hard choice between ruled and squared, but even though I adore squared- a good compromise between the freedom of blank and the control of ruled, I thought ruled looked more like I really was intended to write notes, and not in fact doodle.

So I'm happy to have a new notebook. I wish it a long life!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Worth of Work

another ring

The culture of cheap is discussed in volume. I think part of the issue is that a lot of the 'cheap' stuff is folks getting their 10,000 hours of practice in publicly. So their amateur work is priced much lower than professional work. My work has increased in price through the years as well. Of course, there's always going to be a huge supply of amateurs, and the problem with craft pricing is simple supply and demand.

There's a huge supply of crafters at all levels, and not that much demand for craft work- much of this stuff is for a niche audience- mass market work has mass market prices, and only a small percentage of people really care about whether we spent 20 hours handbeading that belt.

Let me tell an anecdote- I was at a gallery crawl and a man that was on it too saw a great belt- it was handmade with skulls woven into the leather and just an amazing piece of work- but it was $75. The guy really wanted the belt, but he thought '$75 for a belt?' I noted the great design, but really, that belt wasn't worth $75 to him.

And that's the point. It doesn't matter whether you deserve however much- it's how much the item is worth to the customer. We focus a lot on how much our time and services are worth, but when companies are paying people with college degrees $10 an hour, there's only going to be so much stretch in people's perception of worth.