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Why consumer culture is good for your soul Add to ...

Go ye out and spend?

“Many economists, journalists, and politicians will have you believe that consumer culture will lead to a vapid, empty life,” writes James Livingston in Wired. He is the author of the recently published Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture Is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul. “In fact, consumer culture is what you do when you’re off the clock, at your leisure. It’s the time when you can treat people – your friends, your family – as ends in themselves, not means to the advancement of your career. You can’t be businesslike when you’re buying gifts and spending money for fun, because then your goal in interacting with others is the acquisition of an emotional surplus, not money in the bank. This spending is far better for your soul than what happens when you’re using the expense account to entertain clients, in hopes of getting new business and fattening the bottom line. So ignore what the economists, journalists and politicians would have you believe. Happy holidays. Go to the mall and knock yourself out.”

Happiness starts at home

“Workaholics who try to make up for an unhappy home life by chaining themselves to a desk are deluding themselves, according to a new study,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Researchers investigated the idea that employees who are dissatisfied in their personal lives seek ‘compensatory rewards’ through work – but found this is hardly ever successful. In a detailed survey with more than 10,000 people across 30 European countries, the study found there is an overall link between job and life satisfaction – especially for the main earners in households. However, this would not extend to anyone attempting to use work to compensate for unhappiness in their personal life. Prof. Yannis Georgellis, from Kingston University business school, London, said: ‘The life and work domains are definitely correlated. Happiness at home affects your job and vice versa. Although there is a clear ‘spillover’ effect from one area of life to the other, there is no evidence that people who are very unhappy at home will feel ‘compensated’ by work in any way.’ “

It’s a wonderful protest

“An Occupy Wall Street protester landed a job with a New York investment firm by holding a sign saying she was seeking ‘full-time employment,’ ” reports United Press International. “Tracy Postert said she spent 15 days as part of the protest at Zuccotti Park before landing a job with John Thomas Financial Brokerage, the New York Post reported Monday. Ms. Postert said she was on the 10th day of her protest when Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst for the firm, spotted her sign reading ‘PhD biomedical scientist seeking full-time employment.’ Mr. Kaufman took a copy of her résumé and a few days later, she was called in for an interview.” Ms. Postert accepted a position as a junior analyst evaluating medical companies as potential investments. “She was ranting about Wall Street, and now she’s working on Wall Street. Banks are not so bad. I hope we have opened her eyes,” chief executive officer Thomas Belesis said.

Check out this nest

“If you thought [real]estate agents knew how to sell a house, take a look at Emei music frogs,” says the New Scientist. “They attract a mate by singing the praises of the burrows they have dug. Other than humans, they are the only animal known to advertise their homes in their calls. Males of the species Babina daunchina are famous for their musical call, which sounds like an ascending scale. They live on the fringes of ponds in central China, where males dig nests. Yezhong Tang, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu, and his team found that males calling from inside a nest used lower and longer calls than usual. When the researchers recorded typical calls and ‘nest calls,’ and played back both to females, they found that over 70 per cent of females moved toward the nest calls.”

Things are looking up?

“The Men’s Underwear Index was originally developed by Alan Greenspan,” reports Mental Floss magazine. “According to this indicator, if men are not quite as well off, they’re less likely to replace worn-out underwear, and more likely to wear it out completely before replacing it. As expected, men’s tightie-whitie sales have been down throughout the recession, but they’ve recently shown an uptick. So, whether you’re a boxer or a brief man, things might be looking up.”

Thought du jour

“Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn’t mean we deserve to conquer the universe.”

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

American writer

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