Less is more. Part 1.

               I’m thinking pizza. Nope, won’t happen. I’m thinking French fries. Apage satana. Vade retro. Heretic. Ptooey, ptooey. Have you ever experienced confusion when picking a recipe to cook? What am I going to cook today? There’s writer’s block and there’s the cook’s block, this last one being the worst thing a food lover could experience. You open the pantry and time slows down, suddenly it’s been two hours and your wife’s hitting you over the head with an empty plate – which is why I never buy heavy, expensive plates. I’m not saying I’m a good cook, her worst gastronomical experiments are way better than my best standard cooking. Yes, we do experiments in the kitchen, I can’t eat haggis all day every day, gives me nightmares.

               The problem with recipes is not a real problem, but still makes us Sunday-driver cooks confused – we have too many bloody choices. I have two real, live, dust collecting books on cooking recipes and about forty more in e-book format. If I ever do the unthinkable and use google for searching, there’s 100 million websites to choose from. Jewish cooking, Mediterranean cooking, French recipes, Italian recipes, sauerkraut recipes, Indian recipes, Thai recipes, paella recipes, gluten-free recipes, vegan recipes, oy stop. I’m getting a crick in the jaw just saying them all. And if I just pick one at random, either I have to visit the local supermercado for spices and other crap with names I’ve never heard before or it’ll come out looking like something not even stray dogs or cats would touch. Or both, which makes me very angry because food and hunger and me dragging knuckles. And you won’t like me when I am angry. So I stick to standard cooking – boiling eggs, frying stuff that used to be alive and generally acting as unskilled labor for my wife. I do the heavy lifting, she makes things look and taste divine. Mmmmmm….

               After a wee bit of pause to sample the damn food she just made and while feeling guilty because I ate too much because sampling is for women and skinny people, it’s time to put the hamsters back on their wheels, assuming them’s not dead or suffering from indigestion. However, all that trying to evade the other block I have (let’s just say GPS took a wee break right about half an hour ago and leave it to that) just put a nice story right in front of me. Because stories and jokes are the only way to tell mind-hurting truths and not get the messenger shot. If I’m a bad cook and I’m confused, how do others react when watching the news? Or searching for solutions to everyday problems. Or.. you get my point.

               I’ve read Al Gore’s book on the matter and while I still think he’s mostly air and steam, it’s safe to say he does have a point there. Let’s get a-cracking. I’ve used about 100 different shampoos they call anti-dandruff or proffesional but are neither. Some gave me such amounts of dandruff I’ve never used them again, others didn’t fix my problem. But I trusted marketing – mainly those nice commercials that appear when the bullshit takes a break on my telly. If you’ve read me so far, you know where I’m going – I’m gonna go with growling at marketing for ten points.

               My shopping habits are based on past experiences, after pondering the universe and the golden ratio and then throwing it all away and going with my instinct. I’ve been a good consumer, for many many years. Then I’ve taken an arrow to the knee and my two neurons started showing signs of movement. How do you choose? Twenty types of milk, two hundred brands of bacon, and so on, which is better? Hell, going with cheap is easy if you can do basic math, but finding out what’s the best choice is giving me headaches. Same thing with cologne. Same thing with bread. Same thing with everything. You’re overwhelmed by choices, they dazzle you with brand names, pretty colors (oy Bundy!), fascinating (and confusing) labels while they try and take your beer money. 99% of consumers have no ideea why they should prefer X brand over Y. Hell, I think the number is closer to 100% but who gives a crap what I think?

               Sounds like real life to you, innit? Choice overload. Nobody in their right mind would try to make sense of it – I’m usually cursing at various recipes I find around when I can’t get the correct type of salt, for instance. French Sea salt (would that bloody be the Mediterranean?), Hawaiian Sea salt (I’m rusty at geography but I thought Hawaii was an island surrounded by an ocean, will google it), Organic salt (eh? Grows on which tree?), Italian Sea salt (see the French one), Kosher Salt (is it sacrificed as written in the Torah?), Kala Namak (what the hell is that and why is it pink?), it’s safe to say I’m throwing away any recipe that uses one of those. It’s costing me less, too. I mean what the hell is Himalayan salt anyway? Do I live in Nepal? How would I know what you’re selling me comes from there? I should take your word for it? Yea, about that.. I bloody use the one I have and there, to hell with the rest – which may be why my neighbors picket my house when they know it’s my turn to cook. You, down in front, put down the bloody pitchfork so I can see the driveway!

               Tell me, why would you use more than two types of salt for cooking? The taste? How would you know? Dude, there’s two types of food – tasty or not tasty. It’s usually true that whatever is tasty is either immoral, illegal or fattening, but come on.. You oughta live to eat … wait that’s not right. Eat to live, thank you honey, my lump on the forehead feels much more sensitive now.

               Everywhere you look there’s this or that or the other that pokes you in the eye with brands and marketing. You’re obviously not buying everything, so when they all sell basically the same thing, branding means making your analytical part of the brain shutdown. You’re supposed to love the company not the product. Consumer loyalty me arse. Buy Iphone because Apple. Google because, well, Google unless you’re a Yahoo. Bollocks. It’s brainwashing and it’s working. There’s a famous wine experiment I know of (because doh!, wine) – they put blindfolded experts at a wine-tasting to identify which is the good stuff and which is well, ewww, because California. Yes, they were fooled. Another study here shows price makes wine taste differently. It’s all bullshit folks. I’m not saying you should buy the cheapest one you can find – I’ve had some bad days of loo duty myself after drinking some counterfeit wine – just don’t believe that price always equals quality. Added flavors, chemicals, sugar and crap like that is to be avoided like the plague. If you need them, add them to your food yourself. Bloody cook it yourself. At least it won’t be fooled to eat horses at the price of things that used to go moo.

               Companies don’t sell products anymore. They sell feelings, emotions. Products can fail, companies can’t. They slither inside your brain and take control of it. They sell guilt and shame, fear and discrimination. They sell labels, identity. Apple fans, PC fans, Samsung fans, Nike fans – it makes them feel needed, included, accepted. They build their whole lives, their whole identities on fake, unstable premises. Any wonder why they hate Microsoft for Windows Vista or Windows 8? Why anger, why hate? Why ridicule and exclude those who think something else?

               You can’t wear an Ipod without being labeled. You can’t use an Android phone without being labeled. Everywhere you look, they tell you to buy this or that product so you can be an X brand fan. For those who have no identity of their own, and this really bugs me because they target kids too, being included is very important. If a kid has a bad education, if that kid has low self esteem, making him a part of a social group gives him a fake identity – but one he’ll defend if it’s threatened, because that’s all he knows. Nobody else looks after him, nobody else cares about him. Think about it. Then think about how ethical it is to place commercials targeting children during children shows. Hell, not ethical, think right or wrong. Think brainwashing. Ever bought a Disney themed toy lately? Talk about an arm and a leg for something made in China.

               I’ve said it before – the average individual won’t think, it’s easier to be told what to think – and because of that how they look, what they buy and what they eat is who they are. Think of vegans, of vegetarians, ever try to reason with them on the benefits of say pork? Identity means something they’ll defend to the death.

               It’s not new, this identity thing – it’s been around for millenia, they called it religion then. Branding just borrowed the concept. Muslim versus christian, christian versus muslim, everybody versus judaism, it’s all there in the history books. What comes next, corporate wars? Wait, aren’t those

               I’m not against capitalism. I like it. I think socialism is doomed and going on that path will only bring resentment, because people are dumb and easily manipulated. Is some country wealthy? Say Denmark for instance – you’ll find it all rankings that look at health, social security, happiness and so on. Socialist heaven, right? Wrong. High tax when there’s high salary still means high standard of living. Tax evasion you’ll find is more prevalent where income is low. Now take a high tax rate and make it work in Greece or Bulgaria, for instance. You can’t make it work. Social security, is for the educated, for those who aren’t thinking of gaming the system and even then, it won’t last if the citizens don’t think it’s really fair or what they’re getting isn’t an equal match for what they’re paying. Education here means paying a price (taxes) for value (social security, state funded health care and education, and so on). Education means understanding why having healthy, happy, active, working people around is better for the whole of society – me included, not just a pretty slogan, and why avoiding taxes and personal responsibility in such an environment would be like shooting myself in the foot.

               The mantra of the brainwashed is “I don’t know what I want, but I want it now and I want it to be free or at least paid for by somebody else”. Forget about fairness, forget about price, forget about duty… Give me my Armani for free or force Armani sell what I want at the price I’m willing to pay. They’d laugh at me if I were to tell them I’m wearing suits I’ve bought 5 years ago and none of them is a major brand or cost more than 100 pounds a piece. Or that my last suit was bought in 2012 – I’m wearing it right now. You can’t make a self-sustaining system work when the main reason for having a tax is to keep tax collectors employed. A country is not a closed environment, self sufficient, nothing goes in and nothing comes out. The whole problem shows up when you’re using your money to pay for depreciable things other countries manufacture – you’ll have less and less cash to use because part of it goes away. Tell that to those protesting capitalism. You want Armani? Work until you can afford to buy one. If it were me, I’d use loans and crap like that only for raising capital for a business or research – and even then, I’d still want laws to protect me if I screw up – insure it and call it whatever you want – take the premiums from those who succeeded. But don’t waste taxpayer money on copy/paste business plans, make the fellow asking for a loan sweat for it. Reward success and help people try to be successfull. It’s sort of how a child learns to walk. Why aren’t we going for it?

Post scriptum:

               I’m a bit pissed off right now because the planes fly too low and apparently sometimes even crash, so this one’s going to be a series of some sort. After I cool off, no good thing comes when I’m not in the mood.

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