Tim Longhurst's Blog
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New computer

November 24th, 2005 · No Comments

powermacg5.jpgAfter years struggling with a slow little computer, I’ve just invested in a monster.

It’s a PowerMac G5. That probably doesn’t mean much to many people, but basically, I could have sponsored 18 children for a year through World Vision for the same money.

I’d better do something worthwhile with it.

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Category: Tim's Projects

Give your friends garbage presents this Christmas

November 19th, 2005 · No Comments

trashbags.jpgWandering through Balmain Markets today, I came across some funky bags that were getting nods of approval from the shoppers in the vicinity.

I soon discovered that the bags don’t just look great, they’re made from recycled materials by a community in the Philippines.

I took a card and I’ve checked out their website: this is a group of positive people doing great work. They’ve committed to ensuring the products they sell are fair trade, which means they’re paying a decent price for the products they sell. (In this case the price is set by the community that makes the bags.)

I know I’m an advocate of spending time rather than money on Christmas gifts, but if you insist on giving presents, I don’t think you could go wrong doing your Christmas shopping with these guys. Check out: trashbags.com.au

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Category: Communication and connection

Apple takes an extra bite out of Aussies

October 25th, 2005 · No Comments

apple.jpg Apple’s iTunes music store sells songs to US consumers for US99c each. They are now charging Aussie consumers $AU1.67 to download exactly the same tracks. That’s AU44c extra per track for NO extra service. Basically, it’s Apple ripping off Australian consumers in a way they wouldn’t dare do to Americans.

The cheapest way to get music on your computer is still by downloading free mp3’s from independent artists. It’s also better for cultural diversity.

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Category: Corporate craziness

Do Something Christmas…

October 13th, 2005 · No Comments

santa.jpgChristmas is coming (in ten weeks’ time) and here in Sydney, the supermarkets are already starting to sell Christmas-themed processed foodstuffs.

As the plastic decorations go up, the stores will encourage the plastic in our wallets to come out.

Yes, it’s true, Christmas has become commercialised, but it’s not just Christians who are bothered by this. The idea of a season that involves spending time with friends and family, of being generous and thoughtful and considering those less-fortunate is appealing to the vast majority of the people I know (and I hope the vast majority of people I don’t know, too!).

The modern Christmas seems dominated by the worst excesses of capitalism rather than the best side of humanity.

Most of us will receive more Christmas catalogues than Christmas cards. Businesses will employ more pretend Santas than anyone else. Why? Because a Santa in a shopping centre helps align Christmas with consumption.

Corporations will again encourage us to imagine that Christmas presents are made by tiny little people called elves. In reality the tiny little people are mostly sweat-shop workers and they’re only tiny because they’re under-nourished or because they’re under-thirteen, or both.

Let’s do something about it…

With all this in mind, I am calling for a “Do Something Christmas”. Let’s not get sucked-in to settling for a commercial Christmas… Let’s take the time we would otherwise spend shopping and paying off credit-card debts and actually spend it with the people we care about. Let’s play games and have fun together. Let’s build stuff with kids in the days leading up to Christmas.

Here are some more suggestions:

  • Dress up as Santa Claus and take the train across town
  • Send “secret santa” messages to neighbours and coworkers
  • Go into the streets and sing creative Christmas carols such as the ones below.*

buynothingchristmas.org has even more ideas.

*A few friends of mine are planning to sing carols in the Sydney CBD this year. If you’d like to join us, send me an email.

Click to continue reading “Do Something Christmas…”

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Category: culture jamming

Affluenza: notes from a Clive Hamilton & Richard Denniss talk

August 3rd, 2005 · 1 Comment

affluenza.jpgAffluenza: When too much is never enough has been written by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute. Following the book’s launch, they spoke at Gleebooks on June 7, 2005.

They spoke to a packed house, with standing room only. I scratched notes as I listened and you will find these below. Some are direct quotes from Hamilton / Denniss, a few are just thoughts that I scratched as I listened.

The notes highlight some of the ideas Affluenza explores.

MARKETING CULTURE:

The function of at $7k bbq is to drive up desire… $300 bbq’s stop looking good. Now bbqs are selling for $2-3k…

Most Australians have doubts about a money driven life. 83% have criticised a ‘decline in values’.

Now we are bombarded with promotions for things that no-one even knew we needed 10 years ago.

Mobile phones, PC, plasma TV , private health and education, third bathrooms… These were not considered essential items in Australia 20 years ago.

Many of us have a failure to distinguish between want and need.

Some of the best-paid psychologists work in marketing. Much of their work:

  • Creates and project new insecuirities
  • Implies that happiness is only a purchase away

Are a portion of Australians shopaholics? Gambling and alcohol consumption can become obsessive – what about shopping?

AUSTRALIA’S SELF PERCEPTION:

We’re defining ourselves by the products we’re going without.

BBQ’s used to provide a wonderful snapshot of Australian egalaterianism: where people gather to share in food and conversation. Now it’s about “outdoor kitchens” and impressing others with our worldly success.

Despite our ‘laid back’ image, Australians are some of the hardest workers in the world.

ANNUAL LEAVE:
Australia: 4 weeks
EUROPE: 6 weeks

Isolation can be a significant by-product of the pursuit of material wealth.

In Australia personal debt is between $6-14k

IMPORTANT REALISATION: AUSTRALIA IS AN AFFLUENT SOCIETY

Australia moved out of ‘Struggle Street’ a while ago.

We need to admit that we’re rich and cope with that.

We used to be the lucky country… now have 3 times and much and do we consider ourselves lucky?

What is the meaning of life? What should I do? These questions are more often answered through television than tibet: consumption now drives how many of us define ourselves.

Consumption used to be one box in our lives… now it seems to be all of them.

Has money taken on a spiritual character?

The problem isn’t necessarily about money or consumption. It’s about a sense of attachement with money: our attitude to material posessions.

Are we raising consumers or citizens?

THE MYTH OF AUSTRALIA’S ASPIRATIONAL VOTERS

During the most recent elections, citizens caught up in a desire to be materially richer were labelled ‘aspirational voters’, but you can be materially content and still be aspirational.

Who isn’t aspirational?

Who doesn’t aspire to next year being better? Who are the retrogrades?

THE PROBLEMS OF POVERTY CAN ONLY BE SOLVED BY SOLVING THE PROBLEMS OF AFFLUENZA

Poverty is an issue: we don’t lack the money to fix it. We lack the will.

Solving the problems of poverty can only be solved by solving the problems of affluence.

The cure for Affluenza is collective: the politics of downshifting.

DOWNSHIFTING

Means choosing to live a rich life instead of a life of riches.

Deciding when ‘enough’ is: escaping the consumption cycle.

RESPONSES TO AFFLUENZA

The response to affluenza as a concept seems to have taken the form of:
“We have a responsibility to the market… We can’t just ‘downshift’.” so are neoliberals the new opressors?

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Category: Understanding people