Boy, things have been pretty busy the past couple of weeks. I’ve had to do some group work to create a presentation, which we all presented yesterday; I’ve of course had other school work, like reading and such, to do; I’ve been working away on my honours thesis, developing a methodology for my upcoming experiment; I’ve been trying to find a place to live for next term; and I’ve been looking at grad schools for further down the road. I’ve probably missed a couple other things as well, but that should give you a sense of how busy I am.
I also had a very busy day today. Despite not having any class time, my day was jam-packed. The morning was spent working on my thesis. After lunch, I went and played some squash for an hour with one of my friends – I haven’t played it for about eight months now and want to get back into it this term. Then, after that, I came back home, spent a little more time working on my thesis, and then went back to the school to be at a club meeting for the atheist, agnostic, and freethinker club on campus. I had to leave that a little bit early, and then hop on a bus to go take a look at a possible place to live. After having some difficulty finding the place, I rang the doorbell and….no one was home. The guy never showed up, and as I found out from emailing him after I got back home, he had it written down for the wrong day. Sheesh.
So I guess you could say I’ve been a bit busy. That’s not altogether unwelcome. Sometimes it gets the best of me, and the past couple weeks have put a bit of strain on me – it just feels like I’m never quite able to get as much done as I need to – but in general, it’s nice to have things to do to keep me occupied. In particular, a lot of the stuff I’m doing is more long-term stuff – thesis, grad school, etc. – so it’s forcing me to think and plan ahead, which is something I’m generally not too good at. So, despite the fact that it cuts into my leisure reading, I’m taking the busy schedule in stride.
Anyway, I did want to mention a book I just finished reading. It’s called Consumed by Benjamin Barber, and it’s all about consumerism and the causes and effects of the consumer capitalist system. It was a great book, though a bit repetitive at times, but he seems to lay out a strong case for what he is saying. His central argument is that consumerism tends to generate an “infantilist ethos”. This means that a) the market tries to keep adults in an adolescent stage, where they use their emotions to make decisions and seek to keep themselves entertained, and at the same time b) the market targets younger and younger age groups for their marketing campaigns. He gives plenty of examples to support his case, but I think that even with the description I gave, it’s fairly easy to see examples of your own. He also tries to set up a contrast between consumerism and democracy – between consumers and citizens, in other words. His intriguing idea is that, while consumerism tends to privatize needs and desires, democracy puts public desires (things that affect all of us) ahead of private goods. Anyway, I found it an enlightening book, and I would certainly recommend it to others.
At any rate, I did have other things I wanted to talk about. But on second thought, I think I may save them for another time. I’m tired, and my legs are sore from squash, and I think it may be time for me to hit the proverbial sack. I’ve got a couple places to look at tomorrow morning (including the one rescheduled from the guy that didn’t show up), so I’d like to be awake during that so I don’t agree to live in a terrible house for the next eight months of my life. And, of course, I have plenty of other things to do tomorrow, so I’d best get my sleep – for the good of all mankind. Grumpy Jeff makes the world a terrible place.