Tuesday’s Links

Some things I’ve seen lately, that have struck me as a little interesting:

The $150 Space Camera. At first it was just a curious headline, then the thought of it was really, really heavy. Space is not that far away.

Women Rescued from Reality TV scam. I don’t know who is more desperate in this situation? The captives or the captors?

Want Your Own Dinosaur? Place your Bids. Is this morally responsible? Like, should ancient things belong to anyone? They should be everyman’s.

The Mythbusters at The Emmys. From Adam Savage’s Twitter. He is such a nerd. And hilarious. My crush continues.

An entire house, tented. Insane pesticide or some kind of anti-bug bomb ensued. From Jeff Castelaz’s Twitter. See, in Canada if you just wait it out a few months until winter, all the bugs die of cold anyway. Ya, right…

VMA Fug Carpet: Lady Gaga. While sometimes irritatingly annoying, Ms. Gaga’s fashion shenanigans can be eye-roll-inducing. But I agree with Go Fug Yourself: this red outfit is amazing. That is some sci-fi, video game, Silent Hill-quality avant-garde shit, for which I give her mad props. That getup, my friends, is OG.

Ok. Now go have a productive week. I’m gonna go…scrape.

UPDATE: Heart Attack Grill. HOLY SHIT. MIND BLOWN! Watch the YouTube clip at the bottom of the page.

Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes when I do interviews, the questions is asked: “What is your guilty pleasure?” Lately I’ve been answering with America’s Next Top Model. I thought there could not be a show more empty, more shallow and without substance that this: and that’s what draws me in. No thinking required, and the occasional: “Wow, I can’t believe these are real people.” Which is why, last night, I got sucked into a Paris Hilton’s My New BFF marathon that was playing on Star TV. This show has even less substance that Top Model…in fact it has no substance at all. At least in Top Model the girls had a goal in life, a dream to live out, a destination in mind. This BFF show has none of that. The girls on the show are made to seem that they have no intention in life, no reason to work hard or be challenged on TV (or in reality) other than to hang out with a stranger who is really famous and really rich. It’s genius. Pure evil genius. And I watched three hour-long episodes in a row, mostly just to confirm that my mind was being boggled for the right reasons, that this show is nothing more than an infommercial for the Paris Hilton brand. Luckily for me the marketing had the opposite effect and after seeing what was apparently the gaudy interior of Ms. Hilton’s house, I vowed never to even go into a store that carried Paris Hilton merchandise.

Watching a train wreck happen before your eyes is definitely what makes reality TV so addictive and popular. Also it eliminates the need for full-time writers to be hired on a production. But even worse than American reality TV is Canadian reality TV. Namely our latest, guiltiest pleasure: Disband on MuchMusic. Based firmly in Toronto, this show has Greig Nori from Treble Charger following and coaching a new band along the seamy edges of the music biz, culminating with the band performing on TV and an ultimate decision by a panel of “experts” on whether or not the band in question should continue to exist or…DISBAND! It’s awesome. And brutal. Sometimes we see people we know on the show (not in the bands but industry types), which makes it all the more painful and dark.

Other than that, the only good shows on TV are Chef Abroad with Michael Smith, and of course Top Chef which are both guiltless pleasures. And Entourage. But until the next season of Lost starts in 2009, I’ll just be wallowing in rubbish reality TV.

Your Life is a Contest

I am so into the Automotive X Prize. If you haven’t heard of it, the X-ers manage a foundation that awards multi-million dollar prizes to anyone who can successfully complete their challenges. The automotive prize goes to the first team to build a super efficient, clean and affordable car. The website lists an intriguing quote by Lester Brown: “Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.”

Could a prize-based economy redefine the American Dream? The average person’s career is now likely to be a contest, and you have a better chance of winning something than hustling for it. Want to be a musician? Americna Idol. Want to dance? Dancing with the Stars. Interested in cooking? Top Chef. Be an astronaut? X Prize (or Richard Branson is your BFF). Own a restaurant? Hell’s Kitchen. Travel the world? Amazing Race. Learn how to manipulate your friends? Survivor. Learn how to manipulate yourself? Fear Factor. They are game shows gone awry…extending beyond a fantasic half-hour and defining our very existence.

But not that it’s a bad thing at all, since classic corporate structure is broken completely. Reseach and development has barely any meaning. A scientist can’t be an artist because most research is privately funded with marketing goals and target audiences in mind (especially in medicine….its sickitating). The major label music industry is run by deaf dinosaurs, so an artist can barely be an artist for the same reasons. And then you hear about the notion that US car companies have had the patents for the electric car for decades but squashed them because they would devalue the US market’s dependence on oil. Conspiracy? Maybe not so much…

It’s a little mind blowing how elite ecological living is. It doesn’t make any sense at all, but you have to be rich to live “off the grid.” It’s the old adage: “You have to spend money to make money,” well apparently you also have to spend money to save money (and the world, incedentally). I would love to line our roof with solar panels, and ditch the regular car for a hybrid, but that shit is expensive, yo!

And holy frig do Americans have A LOT of disposable income (that they generally spend on themselves, not their fellow man because that’s the American way). The disparity is amazing: there are so many really poor people in the US, working for minimun wage and basically keeping the country’s infrastructure running, while there’s also a really big population of people who literally have money to burn. I was watching one of these shows where they follow some American family’s home renovations, and this one family — who were not, like, really rich but just kind of rich — must have spent $50,000 redoing their basement into a bar/rec room. And it was ugly and selfish when it was done. So bring this idea back to the X Prize, and how easy it would be to raise a 10 million dollar purse, and the potential it lends to the future?

I guess we just have to hope that the humanity the X-Prize trustees are working towards helping isn’t an exclusive humanity. Yes, that’s right, that’s how much faith I have in my fellow man. I suppose if I could believe for a second that other people lived selflessly and for the greater good then I wouldn’t be such a cynic. Sadly my life has intersected with many people who clearly loved money most of all, and who had forgotten about Love itself.