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Posts Tagged ‘hitchhikers’ guide to the galaxy’

While I have to give this Chronicle essay ‘props’ for managing to work The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy into an essay on the parallels between evolutionary biology and existentialism, it fails to earn ‘mad props’…

…because it forgets to consider the bowl of petunias!

No, I’m not being frivolous:  if you’re going to say that we all “just are”, with meaning only coming from our actions, and then compare the situation to that of the puzzled whale hurtling towards the planet Magrathea, you also need to account for the consciousness of that plant, or find a better analogy.

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Garagehinge…and apparently I can continue a worldwide addiction.  David Brooks has a interesting essay about the “end” of the age of leverage today in the NY Times.  What he doesn’t have room to say, though, is that while banks and individual borrowers were taking unwise risks with leverage, whole other industries, including his own, depended on that same behavior:  newsrooms were funded by the advertising dollars that were forked over by marketing teams who believed [rightly or wrongly] that associating their brands with the provision of the days ‘most important’ stories would lead to increased [or even just sustained] sales.  Cultural events were supported by donations from companies with much the same motivation [and, of course, the ‘enlightened self-interest’ of wanting opera, ballet, and museums available for their own enjoyment].  When the belief vanishes, or the forkfuls of reliable funding vanish, you are left with having to either close shop or discover some way of earning money that comes as a direct payment for the services you actually provide, as opposed to the assumed benefits you assure everyone they will get somewhere down the line.

BellyoftheBeastIn a sick way, this is what happens when everyone discovers the superfluousness of a business model, and there’s no B-Ark* to send the “excess” structures of society away to another, less populated world.  I’m not “against” local car dealers, but the idea that I should have to argue my way through a large purchase is ridiculous.  Why don’t I just order the features I want and pick it up from a depot when I need it, or when they’ve finished building it?  If I could pay a set fee to have a group of people keep an eye on City Council, tell me what the gunfire was all about last night, and let me know whether the latest cultural event or food trend was worth my time, I’d do that. That used to be called ‘subscribing to a newspaper’, but it’s not what I get now from my newspaper, because the newspaper industry thought advertising was the best way to generate cash x years ago, rather than relying on subscribers. [Of course, when this other model was tried recently in Denver, I don’t think it worked…]

Sometimes I wonder what higher education would look like if I got some proportion of the tuition my students brought into the school, rather than a ‘salary’.  Further, I wonder what it would be like if students came to my classes [and yes, I think some of them still would] even if the bells, whistles, and incredible social support systems at modern universities weren’t available.  Without the experiential ‘extras’ how much would higher education cost?  Would that model be sustainable?  For whom?

Of course, the desire to be associated with something percieved to have high-status is probably a hard-wired thing in humans, so one can’t entirely fault industries for [and I hate this word] monetizing it.  But that leaves me with the uncomfortable sense that Entertainment Tonight has a more sustainable future than the evening news…..

*For the transcript of the episode of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy which explains the B-Ark and Golgafrincham, click here.

[And although it is making a rather different point, I am heartily entertained by this, though, from a blogger in Australia]

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