Saturday, December 31, 2011

The post Christmas lull

Had a lovely lazy day yesterday, watching Soderbergh's Contagion, while everyone else went to Questacon. This traces the path of a pandemic, a suitably depressing topic for the post Christmas period. It has some big stars, but not a predictable happy ending. I like that. It makes it more realistic. Catch a bit of it here:


Contagion Trailer by teasertrailer

We also watched the seasonally appropriate What would Jesus Buy? with the Reverend Billy of the Church of Life After Shopping, by Morgan Spurlock, creator of Supersize Me and several short episodes of what's wrong with life in America. The one about what it's like to live on the basic wage was particularly moving, although as articulate, college -educated white people wielding a movie camera, the ease with which they landed low wage jobs may not be typical. Still, I don't think that catching a urinary tract infection in an unheated apartment was fake, nor were their extortionate hospital bills.

Freedom in America and other western democracies may have boiled down to freedom to shop if you have the money and even that is under threat. Certainly, exercise of the First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech is severely curtailed under threat of arrest, if practised in the new gleaming temples to Mammon represented by places like the Mall of America.

Sorry I don't know the source, but I thought it deserved a wider audience.

Then there are those such as Financial Times columnist Jurek Martin who believe that Americans have traded in their rights for something else. "The Declaration of Independence states, quite clearly, that all Americans have an inalienable right to life, liberty and connectivity, previously known as the pursuit of happiness" (reported by Reuters).
This was quoted in the context of a Sydney Morning Herald article about German workers at Volkswagen having been given the right to turn off their mobile devices and not to read work -related emails in their free time. It's a small step, but perhaps it's one way to regain some of that elusive "work/ life balance" that everyone talks about, but no one seems able to achieve.
More on that next year. The girls and I are about to hunt four leaved clovers to bring everyone lots of luck in the New Year.
We wish you lots of luck too. 
Happy 2012 Everyone!

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