Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Dennis Edmons: essayist and philosophy dropout
Thomas Dale: self proclaimed prophet
Floyd Huntington: hack sci-fi / fantasy writer
Brian: First year grad student
bk: burnt out bartender
We contribute every once in a while, no real structure; if anyone wants to post, they post. Enjoy!
So I am taking this video course in economics for fun. And I’m so repulsed by the amorality of economics, so I’ve been trying to envision a healthy business model. And I think I’m on to something here…
-If you have something to sell, set a price for it. Say you have a CD you want to sell, and you think that it’s worth $10,000. And you go around and shop it from place to place and some company somewhere will give you $30,000. Sold.
-But, what happened to the bonus $20,000? Was that profit? Or excess?
-I know this is hard to do if nobody wants your stuff, but imagine this instance: you set up a price based on the amount of honest, hard work that you put into it. Say 200 hours on the production of the CD. How much was your time worth? $20/hour? More? Let’s say $30/hour. That’s $6,000. Think about that. That’s 600 CDs. If you do it itunes style. Actually, itunes only gives the artist something like $.08 per CD sold. For itunes, that’s like 75000 CDs. But I digress…
-Set up a price ceiling. Say you want to make $10,000. But, you want to sell the CDs for $10 a piece. So you market the thing, get some samples out there, maybe a single or two, and generate preorder excitement. Then you take the preorders, if you get less than a thousand orders, you take a little less than you wanted, and you start on the next one. If you get more, though, the extra could go to a non-profit, a charity, or back to the consumers by rewarding them by using percentages to charge less in relation to that price ceiling. If 2000 people wanted the CDs, they would get them for $5 a piece. Two benefits:
1-People will help market it for you, by trying to get more people to buy it, thereby decreasing its price.
2-You could offer the people incentive for paying $10 no matter what, with the knowledge that the extra money will go to a certain NPO or something like that.
-I have no idea why I thought it was that pressing for me to share that, but there it is.
But I noticed something the other night. After my fourth conversation with bar guests about him, I realized that two people referred to him as a machine and two others called him an animal. I’ve personally called him both without realizing the underlying implications of those opposite associations.
Face it. On the one hand you have an animal, a beast that hits the water and propels itself to the other side of the pool with instinctual fervor. And on the other hand, you have a machine, fulfilling its primary function which would be to move its parts in a manner to reach the other side in the shortest path possible. They are seemingly the embodiment of two very different things.
But are they really?
They both are non-thinking things. We can debate whether or not animals are truly thinking things or not, but for all intents and purposes, they are instinctual, not contemplative. The same with machines. They do not think about the shortest or quickest path, they merely plunge into the water in accordance with their programming.
Also, if you talk to an athlete who can perform to that level, they often speak of that non-thinking place where they go when they are in intense competition, that Zen like space of doing. Maybe that’s what we mean when we say that he’s an animal or a machine.
If you think about it, it’s pretty cool that these are the people on the international stage for all to see. These are the ones that find that Zen space. They are the ones that transcend the non-doing reality that so many of us humans are trapped in. We think, they do. And we applaud them for it and daydream that we are in their non-thinking shoes.
I awoke in my dream to find the snow falling. And I mean falling.
The storefronts were slowly covering with icy sludge, the sidewalk becoming more dangerous by the minute. I was riding in a rusty GTO, my ears ringing with the engine purring way too loud.
My wife, my boss, and an unnamed frail friend were the crew, and as we saw this apocalypse unfold around us, we drove on, furiously speeding away from the impending storm.
The flakes piled upon the window, the wipers trying to shield the clarity from the icy cover. And on we drove as the storm followed us, desperately trying to grip the car forever.
Behind us, a truck with overgrown tires and gun-toting rednecks in the back, pulled into the parking lot of a 7-11. They jumped out, springing for the door with evil in their hearts. I could feel it from here. We had to get away. And fast.
Out of the city, we started to make some distance between us and the storm. But it wouldn’t last forever. Soon it would overtake us for good. We had to find shelter.
Through the overgrown trees forming a canopy over the road, we saw our new sanctuary. An old library on the shores of a small pond waited to take us in. As we pulled in, the gas guage moved to empty and we coasted into one of the many vacant spots.
The door was open, so we made ourselves at home. Over the next few hours, more people walked through those doors, inexorably drawn to the culture contained in those books and stacks. There ended up being about 30 of us, all peaceful people happy to hole up during the storm.
Fights inevitably broke out, but they were easily quelled once we realized that only together we could reach the end of this apocalyptic journey. And soon, the snow stopped. After a week of icy dryness, the sun poked through the clouds and embraced the earth again. Little patches of green began to poke their heads out, and life, it seemed, would return to normalcy.
We decided I should man an expedition to the outside and see what had happened over the last month. So on we walked. Boarded up houses met our eyes, each one with a price tag on the door. Twenty dollars here, fifteen there, they seemed to be overly cheap to say the least, but I guessed the market had been hit pretty hard with the storm.
As we walked back to the library, distant engines could be heard slowly inching their way closer to our home.
I let everyone through the door, and was about to enter myself as I saw a truck pull into the library’s parking lot. Two men jumped out, each one carrying a rifle. I yelled back into the library for some of the men to come out here and greet our unwanted guests.
I remember them saying, “mornin’” as two more trucks pulled into the station, each with their own decorative gun-toters. I tensed up. And I could feel the weight of the others on me as I walked forward.
“Good morning to you. What can we do for you?” I talked to the little one in the front because he held a smaller gun.
“Well, we saw your place here and wanted to buy it.” Simple and to the point, he looked like a poor car salesman trying to bluff his way into a deal.
I laughed. “It’s not for sale, but thanks anyway.” I nodded to show him that he could leave, but he just smiled and looked back at the large man behind him.
“I wasn’t asking.” He cocked his small shotgun to illustrate precisely what he meant.
I knew I should’ve been afraid, but I wasn’t. I had spent the last bit of time building a community here. I felt for the lives of everyone in the library. I knew what we had sought when we found this edenic place. And I knew that we would fight for it. I turned around to see what my friends, my family, had brought to the confrontation. Blank stares and looks of hopelessness were all that greeted me. We had no guns.
“That’s what I thought.” He pulled up the gun, aimed it at my head, and with the shot ringing out, I found myself back in this room, covered in that so familiar cold sweat of prophecy.
This wasn’t the first vision, it wouldn’t be my last, but it still haunts me.
Funerals and Weddings…
Back in the day (and currently for some people), we used to have family reunions. A chance for the extended fam to get together and talk about the good days, play some horseshoes, and eat some hotdogs and potato salad. That trend is starting to fade.
Nowadays we’re all too busy with our own shit to bother with a get-together at some pavilion in a state park somewhere. We go about our little sheltered lives in our own little pods of reality, texting and facebooking, no longer constrained by geography. But it comes at a price.
Funerals used to be these things where everyone got together and mourned the loss of a loved one. Reverent, sincere, people silently walked around the funeral home and paid their respects to the other family members still breathing. Older members of the family were there as pillars to some as-yet-realized stability or continuity.
Today, they are our new reunions. We see people we haven’t seen in person in years. We catch up, talk about the good days, marvel at how quickly the little ones are growing, hug a little longer than normal, and exchange current contact info. But the old ones there see it as irreverent, ungodly.
My grandmother is particularly disgusted with the current state of funerals. She says that people are too loud, too happy. But she’s really stumbled onto something. It seems to me that we need that community, that family. And when there are no more summer picnics, no more volleyball or badminton tournaments, we have to fill that void somehow. We need those connections to be strong, stable.
The same could be said for weddings.
I’ve seen weddings from when I was a kid – these big, weighty dissertation-esque rants about the powerful god blessing the union and whatnot. But now they’ve begun to get shorter and shorter, more personalized. The reception, while it’s always been a party, now seem to be the focal point for many of the younger couples that are getting married. Fried pickles? Check. Delicious desserts? Check. Ample room for these two families to merge? Check.
It’s a beautiful thing to witness. And it gives me hope for the future. We need more weddings and funerals to keep our families together and changing. We need those moments where we celebrate a life lived or lives merging. We need each other. Because no matter how much we feel like it, we are not alone.