Monthly Archives: March 2004

Business and Democracy

I don't know how many of you have been following the EU rulings on Microsoft's allegedly monopolistic business practices. I didn't really understand the concept of “anti-trust” (basically where the government allows an open market, but then steps in to “penalize” to stop monopolies from happening), so I've been doing some reading on it.

One of the things that it's based on is the evidence that you need at least ten solid companies in a given market in order to ensure enough competition to keep the economy favouring the consumer — with less than ten companies, you fairly quickly have one company (or a small number of companies) gain dominance, and then enough market share to snowball into a monopoly… and when that happens, the consumer is the disadvantaged party, as they no longer have an influence on pricing, options, and so on (the monopoly or pseudo-monopoly holds it).

OK, that's pretty obvious and I assume it makes sense to everyone.

Now apply it to democracy.

When you have two or three political parties, when you think about them as “businesses” who “sell” ideas to the voters (their consumers in effect), you realize something scary. Over the past few hundred years, we've come up with some solid and workable models of democracy, but then watched them devolve into pseudo-monopolies which are fundamentally unable to offer competition, “difference” in belief, or service to the consumer/voter.

To be clear — because we've allowed it to degrade into a monopoly or pseudo-monopoly (where there are choices, but they're tightly clustered, and the majority of power players are overlapping — politics in virtually every Western nation), it doesn't work any more… Well, government works for government, I suppose… but government does not work for the people under the model of democracy we've allowed to happen.

Of course, Italians may disagree with me.


PS. Just as a general reminder, if you spam on IAM (posting promotions for various things in unrelated forums, mass-broadcasting ads or promotions via IM, or even just posting entry after entry to stay on the front page), you will get blocked and/or removed from those functions/forums (or IAM).

Painting

…since she's been wanting to know what the work in progress is. It looks a lot worse in real life. I may be able to save it, I don't know.

"six-four, blue eyes, doesn't drink, tells the truth…"

I've been thinking a bit about heroes this morning, partially on account of having watched part of 1978's Superman again. The trend in modern films is of course the anti-hero, so instead of watching stories about good versus evil, we watch stories about different factions of evil battling for control of hell — aptly echoed in modern American politics in this upcoming election. I almost think that modern story telling and modern politics deserve each other (and maybe created each other).

The scene in Superman when Jonathan Kent dies always makes me sad… Maybe I'm crazy or behind the times, but I really believe in working hard, doing the right thing, and helping others. Why do so few people seem to believe in truth, justice, and the American* way? The idea has almost become farcical — you'd have to be some kind of “silly idealist” to behave like that (or even a “hippy” or whatever derisive term is in vogue)… Of course, Superman was always painted as a nerdy Dudley-Do-Right type character, so maybe I'm just blabbing about nothing.

In any case, when I'm watching a movie or otherwise being told a piece of mythology, I want to look up to my heroes — I don't want to relate to them or identify with them, or think they're “cool” because they're bad-ass in some way. I want them to represent goodness. I want them to be good. That's the whole point, at least from my point of view — the purpose of storytelling should be to guide humanity to goodness, not just carnal entertainment (not that there's not space for a little lust — the Bible's got tons of sex in it of course).

In my own weird way, I suppose that's why I've kept slogging at BME the way I do instead of running it like a “real business” like I probably should… because I believe that body modification can help people find that good in their lives and I feel I have a duty to help on account of having been at the right time at the right place to start the site (and having been helped by it myself).

"0 truant muse, what shall be thy
amends for thy neglect of truth
in beauty dy'd?"

The sad thing is that if you look at the mythologies of dying cultures — examine the artwork and literature of the Roman empire (given the technology of the time, a far more successful empire politically than what we have now), you see the same trends and themes playing out… Basically for most of human history storytelling has been about “goodness” — but when societies collapse and become corrupt and disillusioned, they start churning out artwork that upholds depravity as worthy of great tales — perhaps an attempt to justify the decay in the society itself. The Nazis were right to point out the dangers in degenerate art, but I'm not entirely convinced they understood the issues either since their own end product was fundamentally unsustainable.

What people don't “get” is that “goodness” comes from inside people, a single person at a time — it's why American Transcendentalism was such a pure and beautiful movement. Goodness not an artificial construct or an “addition” to truth. “Evil” is a mistake, a lie. “Good” is the natural state. So why so much evil? Maybe it's as simple as original sin. Humans are fucked up, but luckily we're smart enough to overcome that. Why do human babies cry so much more than puppies wimper? Because humans have designed a life of misery, and it takes babies a few years to build up the tolerance. The Inuit believe that if a child cries, it is universally the parents' fault, but maybe that's a primitive idea? Well, God's calling and I've got an Ark to build. See y'all after the flood.

Vade retro, Earthgirl! I know you don't really exist.

click


* The American way as espoused by Superman and the spirit of the American people, not foreign dictators like Bush!

More stills

I've just captured another couple hours of footage for the movie, this time of Jerome pushing his facial saline work even farther (compare the before-and-after!)… I discovered today that for some reason one of the cameras got all messed up whenever it got within a foot or so of Jerome's head, so there was a lot of stop-and-start in the capturing as it stalled on those glitches. “Oooh, spooky!”

While I'm talking about Jerome, I should mention that he's running another one of his photo lotteries.

Now, some of you may be putting two and two together here are realizing that 75 tickets at $10 a ticket is $750, and while large size printing is expensive, it's not that expensive. Now, ignoring the obvious but inane argument of the fact that that's what art photography costs, the reason I gladly help Jerome promote these is that by occasionally having these types of auctions, he's able to supplement his income enough to live primarily as an artist, rather than having to be enslaved by a 9-to-5.

So my feeling is that by supporting things like this, not only do you get a shot at a great piece of art for $10, but more importantly you get to actually support the arts in a meaningful way.

Dawn of the Dead

This is my “mini review”… OK, I really liked it, but I'm a sucker for stuff like that. My only complaint (which Gus triggered) is that the zombies are really fast and really strong… Whereas they should be more like really drunk undead cannibalistic hospital patients. I think that took away from the “realism” of the zombies — zombies shouldn't be supernatural… They should be something that sits on the line between real and not real (undead being a metaphor I suppose); I think it's why pseudo-zombie films like the BBC remake of Day of the Triffids are so good.

Anyway, the other thing to remember is that this remake is basically a “fan film” in that it was made by kids who were big fans of the original movies, as well as zombie films in general — there were tons of references to both the Dawn of the Dead series, as well as ones to Night of the Living Dead and Return of the Living Dead movies, to name just the blockbusters. And of course Evil Dead as well (hello chainsaw)… This is what happens when you give kids that grew up playing zombie a whack of money I guess.

While it's not really a remake per se (more like a movie inspired by zombie movies in general — like a non-funny parody almost — I actually think that might be the best way to describe this… a non-funny parody), there are a lot of “quotes”, sometimes whole sequences (although transposed onto new characters) and plotlines. I think maybe they tried to put in a little too much, but again, you have to watch this with the mindset that at least half the scenes source from the director getting stoned, watching Zombie Lake and saying to his buddies, “You know, if I ever make a zombie movie, I'd like to do that scene, but here's how I'd improve it…

Anyway, it was fun, but don't go in expecting the artistry of the originals… but still, if you watch this one as a fan film you'll definitely get a kick out of it. I just wish the zombies were less Hollywood.