Monthly Archives: November 2008
I would hope that by now anyone who has chosen to read my ramblings would have arrived at the conclusion that I’m not stupid, I can form ideas and opinions etc, formulate well grounded arguments and so forth. So I’ll take it that I don’t have to explain my understanding of the strange financial situation that has riddled the news of recent months. Anyone who watches the media will know of what I am talking about.
The purpose of this post is to vent my anger/disgust/annoyance at this nasty buzzword which has popped into common usage all of a sudden. Okay, so there seems to be a recession in the works, either happening or about to hit us. Financial markets are supposedly in a bad way, unemployment is rising slightly, and the common people interviewed by local reporters are apparently worried about their future. Quite how severe this all really is remains to be seen, as we all know the media only reports on the harsher side of life, otherwise no one would take any interest. Well, other than those: “And on a lighter note…” topics at the end of the news about some cat stuck in a tree….blah blah.
On a side note part of me believes there is a lot of scare-mongering around at the moment, it’s just a gut feeling I have. The media portrays the world as a scary place about to go BOOM and we’ll all be back to the stone age again. For anyone with an iota of intelligence they will be able to separate facts and reliable information from rumour, speculation and plain stupidity from the media.
Now to my gripe. I’m not too sure where the CreditCrunch phrase came from, SkyNews? BBC News? The Times? Someone somewhere was sat in an office drumming up a key phrase to describe the financial situation a lot of people are facing. Maybe they needed a headline or fancy graphic for a news bulletin intro sequence, you know the type. The horrible red letters to the side of the reporters head on TV that scares the elderly, annoys the rich and wins the Phrase of the Year Award 2008.
So we have governments bailing out banks everywhere, millions wiped off the stock markets, food prices rising at a stupid rate, the common folk on the street saying things like: “I’m concerned for my future” and so on. And then we have the buzzword to describe it all. BUT….it’s not being used solely for the description of what is a global problem, but I now see it being used in adverts! Business are using this as a method to sell us stuff, by appealing to our sense of financial concern they promise not just discounts but huge reductions dedicated to BEAT THE CREDIT CRUNCH NOW WITH OUR INSANE 99% DISCOUNTS!!!!
And people supposedly will buy into this, because we’re basically pack animals and follow what the media dictates to us. We see discounts and become intrigued, we see the buzzword and realise that particular business is trying to ‘help us out’ by lowering prices. Awww, how kind of them. Bullshit. It’s just another promotion designed to keep us spending our money. And there lies the real problem.
We have become a consumable society. Through decades of advertising, social behavioral modifications and the need to keep up with current trends, we have entered the age of being unable to stop spending money, and often money we don’t have. The world is like a clock, each cog needs the other cogs to revolve at just the right speed, connecting with each other perfectly in order to maintain stability. Consumers are a small yet powerful cog, we make purchases and our money travels to another cog, the businesses, that has a whole set of cogs that in turn connect to other cogs, some lead back to consumers, others to financial cogs and so on.
If we stop our consumer cog, suddenly spending less money, that will drastically effect the rest of the cogs, they will eventually mismatch and the clock will slow down or falter in places. So who do we blame? And can we place blame? As a business owner you would want to make a profit, that means selling your product, advertising and creating a brand people recognise and want. But that isn’t enough, you have to keep your brand at the forefront of the consumers mind, new offers, new versions etc, challenging the competition etc. So once you have a solid consumer base and make regular profit you then have to maintain your product, update it, and keep consumers paying for it.
We blame ourselves. We’re driven to keep spending, therefore businesses are driven to keep selling. Each and every one of us earns a figure each year, but so many of us are living beyond that figure, spending more than we earn each year and leading into debt, this debt creeps along very slowly making it seem manageable. But it isn’t and never will be. There are credit cards, debit cards and store cards with huge APR that most don’t notice when they sign up. So we go and spend, every weekend we trundle into the city, pay for things we actually don’t really need but feel compelled to buy, and these things are pretty worthless once paid for.
A car, loses 1/2 its value the minute it leaves the showroom. The clothes you buy, worth less that 1/2 price once you have worn them. And all too often the clothes are poorly made. Tech goods, XBox, LCD TV’s, Laptops and so on, all of which are going to be worthless very soon after that exciting purchase. I’m not saying don’t buy anything, just try and think very hard before you do. Back in the 40′s they had a “Make Do and Mend” thing going on, repair what you have, look after it. We don’t have that anymore, we have a “This is crap, buy a new one NOW!” attitude.
Everyone has a credit score, a way in which those offering credit are able to assess your ability to handle and repay any credit offered to you. But this doesn’t seem to be working. This is how it should work:
- Example income: £25k annual
- Standard expenditure to survive: Based on rent/mortgage/bills/necessary items.
- Disposable income: What remains after your Standard Expenditure is gone.
- Credit: This should be based on what you can pay back every month using Disposable Income ONLY.
Credit is offered on the premise that you already have credit, your job history, how much you earn and so on. Those who offer new credit to you never look at how much other credit you already have and they should. When a new store offers you credit and they check they database, while you hand around in the store waiting impatiently to get your shiny new item home to unwrap it. After a few minutes it spits out a report, yes! You can have another £2,999.99 worth of credit slumped over your back like a dead weight.
This is so wrong! Those databases, or programs or credit advisers should have a check on what you are currently paying out, how much credit you have right then. Because once you reach a certain limit you will be unable to continue paying as there will be no money to borrow from the credit card to pay for the monthly repayment on the new LDC TV, and your wage is going on interest payments alone, but you have to pay the bills and buy food and run the car and socialise with friends don’t you? Sure you do, because the media tell you to!
Listen up, cogs are important, without your spending other cogs with seize up. A few simple rules is all you need to make sure you’re not a victim of the CreditCrunch.
- Ask yourself seriously why you are about to buy that item.
- Do you NEED or WANT it.
- If you NEED it then find a cheaper one if you can.
- If you WANT it then make sure you truly can afford it, not with more credit, but with real cash.
- Budget for things, save money!!
- If you enter a city on the weekend, leave the wallet/purse at home, take limited cash with you, then when you run out you can’t impulse buy.
- Heinz beans taste the same as Tesco beans but cost more then twice as much.
- Look for offers, BOGOF is good only if you actually NEED 2!
- You don’t have to spend money! It’s yours, try to make better choices on where/when you spend it. Realise that spending money on casual items is a habit, break that habit!
This is the first of a selection of entries based on my adventures around the new continent of Northrend, from the World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. It may indeed seem more than a tad nerdy to be writing a blog on this subject, however it’s unlikely that I am the only one!
My new game arrived in the post, and unwrapping was a delight, yes I know that seems sad but I seldom buy anything leisure or hobby wise so this was a real treat. Even the installation was harmless and easy going, despite my eagerness to explore! So to business, new discoveries are indeed the order of the day! I took a steamboat from Menethill to Howling Fjord this afternoon with a friend sat watching me. I’ve played many video games in my life but not many have left me open mouthed and eager for more wonderful sights!
Upon reaching the new continent I could see packs of penguins on the icebergs, burning ships wedged between rocky outcropping far over head. The sights and sounds were awe inspiring, so much to see and do and it is all new!! I disembarked along with a dozen other eager explorers and wondered around the small Alliance town of Valguard. First things first, I need to visit my trainers: Alchemy, Herbs, Cooking and Fishing, and what wondrous new things I learned! But more of that later!
I found my first quest, slaying nasty beasties in the woods to protect the town. I had respecced from healer druid to feral kitty cat big old dps and was ready to do battle! Running in to the fray I found other people in combat and was soon set upon by huge wolf beasts. After slaying them and running back to the town I saw a ready cooked turkey on the ground and within seconds I saw a live one cluck past me. I reached out and snapped it neck (cruel but hilarious sound effects) and it vanished in a puff of feathers and plopped neatly on the ground as a ready roasted turkey! Marvellous!
I soon found more quests open up to me, taking me slightly further into the woods to rescue helpless survivors and slay more beasts! I found a herb, picked it, stashed it in my backpack and hurried on, eager to see more of this wonderful new land. After exploring a mere snippet of the new land I was forced to log out and re-enter the real world, much to my dismay.
It seems Blizzard have brought its loyal players a continent smothered in riches, new plants and buildings, new beasts and evil nasties. The textures and sounds were fresh and vibrant, and so far there isn’t a hint of the garish blue/red/purple plasticness that riddled the Burning Crusade, yay! Who knows what amazing adventures will unfold! I am happy to be taking my time to explore and totally enjoy the experience. I will not be surprised to see people who are level 80 within a few days, but then some people ready do have no life an nothing better to do.
The quests came thick and fast, and I was happy to spend time searching around for those ever important items I needed. For several months most quests I’ve done with alts I have previously done and know exactly where to go to complete them so this really is like a breath of fresh air. I have been reading up on the comments by the BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones and his comments on the addictive nature of WoW. Seems like he whipped up a frenzy with his distaste for the World of Warcraft, a game he clearly has never played, yet feels able to comment on and slag off.
His blog criticises online gaming, WoW in particular for being far too addictive, and it impacts on the lives of the young and students, invading their lives and pushing them into a solitary existence where the game is the only important thing in their lives. After reading the majority of readers replies I decided not to add my thoughts and instead have a slight moan here.
I agree with some points made, that games like WoW do have an element of addiction for a certain section of the population, those who have addictive personalities, behaviour problems etc. However, like a good few parents point out there are parental controls, and letting your kids play WoW for endless hours is a case of bad parenting. On the other hand I don’t think anyone, journalist or other, has the right to blatantly slag off a game like WoW or any other form of online gaming, when their very approach to this genre is incredibly old fashioned.
The world is changing as we well know, and like so many people have pointing out: What does it matter if your few hours of leisure time is spent in a virtual world rather than watching TV or flying a kite or drinking down the pub. Surely if you choose to spend a few hours each night socialising with friends online, then head to bed and next morning off to work, then where is the harm? From my experience in WoW 98% of people I interact with have real lives, they study, work etc, and play WoW in the evening, it does not impact on their lives in such a horribly dramatic way Rory Cellan-Jones thinks it does.
And then there is the fact that so many activities can be viewed as addictive, not just online gaming. Drinking, drugs, stealing cars, even addiction to TV, films, sports, gambling, the list is endless. Online gaming has been around for such a short period of time, and has not yet had enough time devoted to its impact on society, and I find it unfair that a journalist sees fit to make such sensationalist comments where he:
a) hasn’t played WoW (or online gaming full stop)
b) has done basic research into the very new online gaming phenomena
c) needs a trendy topic for his blog that will get a response like he has.
If a single person is playing WoW for 18hours a day it is likely that this is not the fault of Blizzard, but more the personality of the individual who would have become addicted to anything given the chance. I myself like writing, this blog is an example, but I write fiction mainly. I find that I get carried away with a plot, scene etc and a few hours have flown by. Now and then, whilst working or away from the pc, I find myself thinking of the next scene and where the characters are going etc. I muse these things over and then get on with my current task. Does this behaviour mean I am addicted to writing? No. It means I am imaginative and able to switch that part of my life on and off. Just like WoW gamers who play for a few hours a night or on the weekend.
I’d like to conclude by saying that there are pro’s and con’s for online gaming, and that all things should be taken in moderation. Journalists making sensationalist claims about online games are not interested in the genre as a whole, but merely jumping on the bandwagon. Timing is key for journalists who blog, after all it is only with the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King that Rory Cellan-Jones managed to drum up such a response. The same can be said for any trend or fad that is splashed across the media. I’m not against Rory, but I do believe his efforts are shallow and naive at best. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however I prefer to base mine and my arguments on an objective point of view with some knowledge of my subject, rather than a hash of reworded jargon and old quotes we’ve all seen before.
And with that final word I shall post this, switch off my PC and cook a wonderful meal. And no, I won’t be switching straight to WoW because I am not addicted. I enjoy it as a pastime, pure and simple, just like t 99.9% of online gamers. We play because it’s fun, you remember what fun is don’t you Rory?
But our vanity regime doesn’t stop there does it? Not one bit. Some of us feel this strange desire to enhance our appearance beyond that which sprouts from our head. We need our nails done, we need our faces to be painted in rich rainbow of clown like and very unnatural colours, we need a beauty therapist!
You can blame it on the media if you like, safest way of explaining our fascination with looking nice. But it boils down to vanity. I’m not knocking women here at all, more the extreme processes they go through to make themselves conform to what they truly believe to be normal. Every day we’re bombarded with images of so called beautiful people in the media, fashion icons, WAGS (grr, I hate that expression), celebrities and all the other people we see looking wonderful in our glossy magazines.
And due to this supposed level of attractiveness we turn to our beauty therapist. Usually a lady wearing some kind of authoritative tunic – hey look at me, I wear a smart looking dentists uniform but in a different colour, I must know what I’m doing! And to be honest most of them fail to hit that mark on the Beauty-O-Meter that says “Beautiful/Pretty/Dazzling etc” but rather the lower down mark of “Acceptable/mundane/over the top clown face” instead.
And these therapists are everywhere! Just look down your local high street. Butcher, baker, newsagent, grocery store, post office and oh….there’s a new beauty therapists just opened with a cute, lofty, intriguing name, we must pop in there some time. Dear oh dear! It’s funny how niche markets are created by the slow evolution of supply and demand. And people turn up in droves to get themselves beautified too!
Ok so some women do look damn ugly, as do men, but my own personal opinion is that human beings are beautiful full stop. No one needs to slap layers of make up on their faces, or have intricate designs painted on their false nails, or have some ancient message therapy performed on them. So why do people do it? Have you heard their reasons for their weekly visit to the clown faced beauty therapist? “Well it makes me feel better,” they say. “It’s my treat” or “I like to pamper myself”….Christ in a cartoon!
You’re not really doing it for the sole purpose of making yourself look good at all. You’re doing all this because it’s what society tells you to do. You want to enhance your attractiveness, maybe the years are slipping by and those late 40′s and 50′s aren’t treating you very well. Maybe you’re young and you go along with your galpals for a facial and nail session because “It’ll be neat and a bit of a laugh.”
And what does the beauty therapist tell people? They advise them on all sorts of things you need to have done, right now, immediately, before it is too late. Some jollup in a jar, supposedly made from crushed silk, jasmine and extract of god knows what (but is really just processed oils and synthetic crap) that goes on your face to enhance your features, reduce wrinkles, tone the layers of your skin and so on.
This high quality jollup costs a fair price, but it’s got to be working otherwise why would it cost so much? It’s proven to be beneficial for your neck/hands/face/turkey wing/bottom/feet etc cos it’s been tested on 50 women and 68% agreed it was quite nice. Sorry for being a tad overly cynical here, but that’s not really saying very much is it? 34 people they tested it on reported some benefit! Ok, sure, slap it all over my face with such amazing statistics as that!
So after their long session, massage with essential oils (why are they so essential?) nails done, hair done, facial and makeover done, what do people do after forking out fist fulls of cash? They make another appointment for next week/month whatever! Why? Because it’s now a routine, because they can no longer live without that special afternoon where a clown in a dentists tunic can sell them jollup in a jar and muck about with their bodies for an hour or two!
Another reason for this is to attract a mate or keep the one you have interested in you. To get a bit mucky here, there is a very well known fact for why women wear lipstick and makeup in general. It relates to our animal heritage in part. You know those baboons or weird monkey’s who look like they have been painting with their bottoms? Yep, all blue and red and colourful. They have that, like many other animals, so they can bend over, show their potential mate their arse and say “Look at me, my arse is multicoloured, way better than anyone else’s, so be quick and mount me!”
Well the same goes for lipstick. Parts of the body are enhanced to appear like other parts of the body. So full red lips, glossy and pucked supposedly entice a man as they are a mirror to what lies between a woman’s legs, yep, it’s the truth. I looked it up on the internet.
Beauty therapists have to earn a living, sure, that’s no problem. But prancing around in that silly dentists tunic, filling customers heads with your exclusive range of bullshit products just seems wrong to me. But then I guess customers head inside the beauty salon with the expectation of being sold a load of waffle, so long as it’s a weird green mixture they’re spreading all over your face at a cost of £50 for 25ml then it’s all ok and legit.
Please remember that we are all beautiful, take off the makeup, clean your teeth, wash the hair and realise that you do not need enhancing, you are perfect the way you are.