Archive for February 5th, 2007

So…what’s the plan?

| February 5, 2007 | 2 Replies
So…what’s the plan?

Ever since Bush announced that he was sending 20,000+ more U.S. troops to Iraq, he has said he would not do so unless there was “a plan” for using them.  He then ordered senior military officers to create one.  Nevertheless, whenever people in the Bush Administration have talked about “the plan,” they haven’t actually described one.  They […]

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Shopping for Sex: wasteful consumerism and Darwin’s theory of sexual selection

| February 5, 2007 | 24 Replies
Shopping for Sex: wasteful consumerism and Darwin’s theory of sexual selection

A few weeks ago I ate dinner with friends.  One of the friends mentioned that, a few weeks earlier, he had attended a party in an upscale neighborhood.  At that party, one of the guests announced that she had brought her own bottle of wine because the host’s expensive wine wasn’t good enough.

From my end of the table, I blurted out that it is not necessary to have expensive wine to have a meaningful gathering with friends or family.  In fact, I added, “wine is not necessary at all.” 

I was about to elaborate when I noticed that the other adults at the table were staring at me like I had three eyes.  “That’s not correct,” they told me, almost in unison.

I know that “look” well. I have received that same “look” from various people on other occasions. On one occasion I got “the look” from someone who was trying to justify that an ordinary car wasn’t sufficient, so he needed to buy a BMW.  Another person who gave me “the look” was trying to convince me that her $75,000 kitchen remodeling was “necessary,” even though all of the appliances in her existing kitchen functioned perfectly.  The problem with her current kitchen was that it was “old.”

I have also received that same look from fundamentalists when I explain that the earth is billions of years old.  The “look” is a “we-will-pretend-you-didn’t-say-that” look.  It shouldn’t surprise me to draw the same “look” from both consumers and Believers, given that wasteful and pretentious spending is the de facto national religion of the United States.  We’ve moralized extravagant spending to such an extent that “living the good life” means buying lots of things we don’t really need.

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