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Pricing and consumer mood

I found this statement, quoted in a Wall Street Journal story today about inflation ("The Outlook" on A2), fairly astounding. It comes from remarks made to shareholders by the treasurer of a uniform-manufacturing company, Cintas -- not exactly a sector that's especially senstive to energy costs: "The increase in energy costs that is felt throughout the entire country has changed the mind-set of consumers and they're more apt to accept a price increase than they were in the past 12 months." So in other words, energy-cost increases bear only a psychological relationship to the price we regular-shlub consumers pay for goods and services? And the prices we are confrnted with are a reflection of our state of mind, of what we're willing to pay? Paying more for gas makes us feel like everything should be getting more expensive, and then manufacturers gratify this notion of ours by arbitrarily raising prices? Is this really how the finely calibrated and unerring free market functions? I guess so. What I continue to get stubbornly stuck on is the idea that the price of something should actually reflect some inherent use value in the thing itself, but the idea that things have inherent value has become a mystification. Value is strictly a matter of what someone will pay (only exchange value, no use value). The supply/demand curves that govern prices are affected by perceptions, since we are rarely confronted directly with real scarcity at this point. So things like consumer confidence have a direct bearing not only on investment but on pricing as well, I guess.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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