Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Media 1, 2, 3

935 words

Three different insights from the media:

First: Copies

For some reason there was a whole evening on the topic of copies – ranging from commercial plagiarism to cloning – on both arte and 3sat this week. On arte they had a short documentary on making wine focusing on the difference between the traditional French wine culture and the more business oriented newer American wine industry. It seems that there’s enough space for both approaches. The show once more contained the incredible number that the average retail price of a bottle of wine in Germany is less than two Euros. Beer country, I say…

This was followed by a treatment of product piracy – fake clothing and pirated films but also fake versions of car parts or other things where the a part’s failure can hurt people. My reaction to these examples is as different as the situations are. When it comes to the fashion industry, I find it very difficult to feel sorry for them. When people focus on selling some illusion of exclusivity and someone in China manages to fake it at a tenth of the price in a way that people can’t tell the difference, well perhaps the thing was just overpriced to begin with. Of course I can appreciate a designer’s work in this, but – just as in the music industry – it seems pretty safe to assume that this is more about corporate profits than about some artist’s well-being.

Another point is of course that many of these ‘fakes’ are sold in places where buying the ‘original’ is so far out of reach for the people wanting them, that buying some copy instead just seems natural. If hypes and advertising budgets are global enough to reach even the people who are not in the target group – what are those people supposed to do?

Once you enter the area of engineering or medicine, though, things start being very different. The essential bits of a design may actually be vital there. These products probably went through extensive testing before companies were allowed to sell them. And unlike in the situation of fake clothes or DVDs – where I assume the customer to at least suspect that things may be fake just because of their price – the point here is to fool the customer into thinking he’s buying the real, the same, the tested thing.

The third programme in the series dealt with the question of patents for medicine which are used by pharmaceutical companies to protect their profits and recoup – or likely much more than recoup – the costs of their research. Unfortunately some countries are too poor to afford the drugs they need for their populations and thus countries started to create their own generic versions of the medicines. Hopefully with enough testing and all. While this breaks some ‘intellectual property’ law or another, it’s probably hard to argue with. This issue was elaborated on some examples in Brazil where state-owned pharmaceutical companies make a lot of generics for free distribution in the country. Usually this doesn’t cross international ‘intellectual property’ lines, but they have special laws to create forced ‘licenses’. Which makes sense, I guess. Even people from the pharmaceutical companies probably (secretly?) think that some / some hundred / some thousand lives are more important than some twitch in the increase of their corporate profits.

The evening in 3sat treated the same topics, possibly from a somewhat more hands-on perspective. There were a number of short segments on all sorts of issues from forged money, to pills, to cars, to media, to paintings, to cloning. They tried to show the legitimate side of some of these processes, in the case of paintings say, as well and also touched the topic of forgery in research. While they also did a piece on Second Life, they completely missed out on Fake Steve…

Second: Living with Less

Le Monde had a really interesting supplement on sustainable development in their Wednesday issue. Not only did it have a number of short articles on the topic, it also featured a series of photos of families from different countries around the world together with the food they eat in a week. Those images reveal (are made so they reveal) a lot. Some people starve, those in poor countries who don’t starve eat what we now consider to be all natural and very healthy, while people in rich countries have enough and loads of shrink wrapped things on their tables. Naturally the food from France looks a bit more healthy and interesting, that from Japan has an odd mix of fresh fish and shrink wrapped stuff and the American family manages to look significantly more happy over their collection of junk food than their British friends do.

I think these photos might make good kitchen decoration – but I’ve already put some of my own food photos up which are much less controversial and – while less significant – prettier. So chances for that are bad.

[The Photos were made by Peter Mentzel and they are taken from the book Hungry Planet [Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]. Some of them are online at the Time website.]

Third: Atheism won’t rule the world

Finally, a lengthy report involving atheism in the paper mentioned in passing that the majority of people in the US don’t just believe in a god (err, the god, I guess) but they’d even have such dubious figures as a black person, a homosexual or a muslim as their president rather than an atheist. ‘Progress’ or ‘retarded’? Sometimes these things are hard to tell apart.

June 1, 2007, 0:17


Comment by Dave2: User icon

Since just about every statistic I’ve ever read on America’s religious make-up claims 65%-85% of the population identifies themselves as “Christian” (depending on the source) I would question any article which claims that “a majority of the US population doesn’t believe in God.” It’s kind of impossible to be a Christian and not believe in God.

Did they publish where their data comes from? Or is citing sources now considered to be “retarded” and it’s “progressive” journalism to whip out statistics that have no basis in reality?

The latest ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) I could find shows a declining number of Christians (88% in 1990 vs. 81% in 2001)… but I sincerely doubt that the number of Christians in the US has dropped to 49% or less in the past 6 years since the last survey. Even if the percent dropped to an unfathomable 75% in 2007, AND the ARIS survey had an ridiculous margin of error of +/- 25%, you still wouldn’t have numbers to support a claim that “a majority of the people in the US don’t believe in God.”

Of course, I’m not a Christian, so make of it what you will. :-)

June 1, 2007, 2:52

Comment by ssp: User icon

You’re totally right there and that’s exactly what I tried to say – I just wrote it in an easy-to-misread way ‘don’t just believe in a god…’, my bad.

June 1, 2007, 8:21

Comment by Dave2: User icon

Ah. Even reading it thusly…

“…that the majority of people in the US not only believe in a god (err, the god, I guess) but they’d even…”

… I am still confused. Since a majority of the people here believe in “God,” why would it surprise you that an atheist would be last on the list of who most Americans would want to see as president?

Besides, I’d think it would be obvious from the overwhelming brilliance of the current US presidential administration that choosing a candidate based on faith is a far superior method than choosing somebody who would actually be good at the job.

Oh. Wait a minute…

June 1, 2007, 18:29

Comment by ssp: User icon

I guess what leads to this is that I thought that belief is something which people should be allowed to practice as it pleases them because it’s a personal thing. At least that’s how people try to sell it. And thus I find it hard to see how someone with the same belief should make a better president than someone else.

In principle you could have two people who act exactly the same and even have identical opinions on pretty much everything. Yet one of them believes in things like a god and a son of god and rising from the dead and so on while the other doesn’t. At least rationally I don’t see how one of them would make a better president than the other.

But of course this – together with the fact that most of those outspoken believers these days are very keen on forcing their belief on others - hints that the whole ‘personal’ aspect is just a show thing which they bring up to look harmless. For real, they want to dominate the world. (F*ck! They actually do!)

So, anyway, back to my point: If religion and its followers were as great and open minded as I was taught they are, I cannot see how they come to this conclusion. I mean, they could choose a white, straight, non-muslim atheist after all…

[Of course I’m just pissed that I can’t become president.]

June 1, 2007, 19:29

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