Monthly Archives: elokuu 2016

Gimme Shelter Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Normaali

Viikko 35


 

Motion: THW drive a construction-friendly economic policy into the future
Role: Rep. (govt.)
Date: Aug 29th, 2016


Robert J. Shiller, professor of economics at Yale, wrote recently that land and homes have been disappointing investments for a century. They have doubled or tripled in value while the Gross National Product has typically soared over fifteenfold in comparable time. While his claim may be true, one quickly realizes that this is because losses in the ”middles of nowhere” offset the gains in metropolises and thriving cities. As real-estate agents say, ”it’s about location, location and location.”

Prime real-estate prices are high. Apartments are often scarce in big cities where the majority of migration domestically is bound for. There’s a mismatch between supply and demand.
Why is this? What has rendered real-estate holdings the best assets around?

The way I see it is that real-estate prices are far too high — IN GENERAL — because of two things:

  1. All social classes desire real estate for slightly differing reasons
  2. People inherently (or after a progress of history, which I’m going to digress into and demonstrate later) trust realty more than any other type of possession.

[[ We may sidestep for a minute and clarify what different social classes are and how they can be differentiated. For the sake of clarity, let’s pare down the classes to just four.

  • Upper class – those who make their living from unearned capital income (money making money, usually by banks or investment funds)
  • Upper middle class – those who earn their living working in a position that may lead to promotion and having subordinates. Different managers and directors and ”-ive/-ial” officers crowd this class.
  • Lower middle class & Working class – those who earn their living working in a position that does not offer chances for promotion nor having subordinates. Self-employed entrepreneurs also often belong here.
  • Underclass – those who make their living from different kinds of government social-security transfers or criminality. ]]

Now, all classes want real estate. The underclass wants to live in it on rent, not caring too much about who owns the piece of sh… property, but all the other classes want to own their own property. Furthermore, the upper class may buy property purely for profiteering and speculative purposes. This means that the not very rich, the quite rich and the very rich all pour lots and lots of money individually or collectively into real estate. This is cut out to push the prices upward and cause inflation and housing bubbles.

For all that, it can be that we couldn’t have a different world. Let’s consider the other options. If people had
a) cheap housing, b) big wages and salaries and c) low taxation
and they spent their big wallets instead on something else, terrible things might ensue. I’ll list the probable outcomes:

  • If people bought securities, shares, stock or derivatives, there would be a speculative bubble somewhere along the way. This has happened many times over and it’s quite predictable. In that case, a lot of people would lose some of their money and a few people would lose all of their money. That’s not desirable.
  • If people bought cars, planes, water scooters and other vehicles, the lakes and roads would be crowded by a different magnitude. Accidents would increase. Pollution would be on the rise. That’s not desirable.
  • If people bought simply more stuff such as books, electronics, clothes, musical instruments etc., they would soon discover that their homes can only hold so much stuff and that excess is excess. Some would resort to storage hotels, garages and other means to store surplus items. In the worst case, people would need to build outbuildings or buy more real estate to house their shopping-spree private property. But many more would go minimalist and shed all the stuff at once in a desperate attempt to gain control over their lives. That’s not desirable.
  • If people made more babies and had more children, thanks to having more disposable income, there would be a welcome upswing in the population demographics. However, too many children would rob people of what little time they had left for themselves to spend on leisure. Children would claim all of the time of their parents. That’s not desirable.
  • If people began globetrotting, i.e. travelling more and to more faraway places (it’s a little hard to top Thailand or Australia, though), they would probably enjoy themselves immensely for some time. But soon they might begin to feel that every place is alike most other places. What’s worse, the locals in a given place might start resenting the ”new hordes” that came to their cities and countries uninvited and turned them into something they hadn’t been. We’ve already seen forms of this in the way asylum seekers have been met in recent months and years. That’s not desirable.

Sometimes these things may have happened in real terms in history. Our memories don’t stretch very far. In other words, the world has already been there and done that, i.e. come to the conclusion that it’s better to stash away one’s money in the form of buildings, real estate, edifices and things with a roof than try to use money through consumption or retain its value using some other method. That way is not perfect in itself but it’s better than the other ones, or the best out of bad options.

Mankind may be able to come up with a way to store its wealth other than in real estate, but until then that maligned option still seems to be the default way (for a layman, or a given person) to try to retain value in something.


Puheen kesto: 6 min 20 sek [7 min 50 sek]
Arvio: * * * ½. Tein puheeseen yhden turhan luettelon, joka on [[ ]]-sulkeissa oleva pätkä. Luettuani puheen kahteen kertaan, lisää rönsyillen ja sillä varustettuna ja nopeammin ilman sitä, päädyin toisaalta aivan liian pitkään ja yhtäältä sopivan pituiseen puheeseen. Tämä luokkaluonnehdinta ei silti ole välttämättä kokonaan turha; sen paikka ei vain ole tässä puheessa vaan jossakin luokkia tarkoituksenmukaisemmin käsittelevässä puheessa. Sen takia en poista sitä kokonaan vaan laitan sen sulkeisiin. Itse puhe on suhteellisen jäntevä, asiallinen  ja eteenpäin menevä.

Puheita on nyt arkistossa tasan 50 % – 50 %, mitä tulee hallituksessa ja oppositiossa toimimiseen. Rooleja ei ole kuitenkaan tasattu päikseen, vaan ne jakautuvat epätasaisesti miten sattuu. Kaikkia puheita ei ole kuitenkaan vielä julkaistu, vaan ne tulevat tulemaan tänne syksyn mittaan ja siitä eteenpäin.

Radio Gaga

Normaali

Viikko 34


 

Motion: THW renew the FM radio world thoroughly
Role: Whip (govt.)
Date: Aug 24th, 2016


Now that Spotify has been awhile with us, we should take a look at how it has changed the way we consume music as opposed to radio broadcasts.

As our MP-representative said, Spotify is the realest radio that there is around minus the hosts and talk-based programming and interaction. Musically, what can be heard is far more stimulating than what can be heard on mainstream radio channels from 88.6 MHz to 105.7 MHz. Why does radio suck? What happened?

A lot of the suckiness of radio can be attributed to the journalists who work there. There isn’t so much difference to print journalists, who publish high-school photos of themselves next to their headliner stories which usually tell of really tricky political realities or why not their experiences in dealing with the medical establishment while tending to their aging and ailing parent(s). Radio journalists may just as well post 16-year-old versions of themselves, tricking their listeners into believing they’re really 16 while they are juggling their 48-year-old lives with children, divorce, mortgage, attempts at exercise and minding that 86-year-old. Also, those journalists’ flaws may be attributed to their youth. Those presenters who are really only 25 may serve you their commune-living and rock-festival experiences every day in a row for those 8 years that they are allowed to work on a ”youth channel”.

At any rate, as our side’s minister pointed out, many of us tune in for music, and I want to focus on that music. I think the biggest problem that radio stations have is the so-called playlist stations or heavy-rotation supply or downright virtual-jukebox stations. What this means is that they play some records over and over again for years, sometimes decades. This isn’t merely bad, as some songs are so good that ”everyone” needs to hear them at least once in a lifetime. The situation turns however from good to worse when those same songs are played too many times, or, ”ad nauseam”. A lot of the educationally good songs tolerate from 1 to 10 plays in the lifetime of a human being. Thereafter, they turn ”sour”, tasting more like milk that has already gone bad. Yet, a lot of the stations play expressly this fare over and over again, hoping that there are still legions of people out there who have not heard this and that song in their lifetime. Also, they may erroneously claim that ”if we did not do this, our listeners would disappear, never to tune in again…”

I claim that radio stations should conversely play mostly music that has not exhausted itself of meaning, significance and relevance. A good portion of the popular music that is available is ”uncharted”, meaning two things.

  1. It did not chart at the time of its release, meaning that it may have been a ”filler” or an ”album track” on a record of which only the first or title track has even been played in public.
  2. People wouldn’t recognise the song or be able to place it on the timeline of the artist’s repertoire, even though they could otherwise pinpoint who/what the artist in question was/were.

We have to remember that a lot of the early 80’s to the late 90’s stuff that is being played right now on most of the world’s radio stations was once ”new music”. In other words, if stations then had stuck to their guns and the same principles as stations now do, they would have blocked that music in favour of music that was recorded from the early 60’s to the late 70’s. And we might not know at all songs such as ”Crazy Train”, ”I Won’t Back Down”, ”Freedom ’90”, ”Losing My Religion”, ”Nothing Else Matters”, ”Zombie”, ”You Oughta Know” etc. etc. etc.

Going back to what our prime minister declared in the beginning, music journalists working for music publications in print are probably fast losing their jobs right now, as fewer and fewer people follow what’s happening in the world of popular music; thus, they could be employed at radio stations, so that the latter could fulfill their mission (duty) to play genuinely educating music to the masses. I assume, at least, that a competent music journalist knows much more intriguing and exciting songs than an average radio listener, who has only pricked up her ears for the 200 most recognisable songs in popular-music history. The journalist should know that multiplied by at least ten (10x).

And if the station owners say that that can’t be arranged, as the music-royalty payments would then be dispersed and scattered over far too big a corporate landscape, I would say that it’s bollocks. There appears to be only three major record labels in the world today (meaning Sony, Universal and Warner; in other words, one consumer-electronics giant and two movie-business giants, all of them companies that have found ways to make more money than there is to be made selling records), and any originally independent record company would appear to be in the possession of one of these three. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too hard to pay smaller amounts to a multitude of bands under a few (= three) ”umbrellas” instead of big lump sums to a handful of bands. I know that there are some independents around today still, but most of them are startups and were not around by the time the big buyouts in the music business began to happen. They, too, can be included in the moneysharing as long as they have produced and released something of merit and importance.

There might be a future for the radio still, but it for sure isn’t in the current state of affairs.


Puheen kesto: 6 min 39 sek
Arvio: * * * ½. Puhe on interaktiivinen, eri puolia referoiva ja monipuolinen mutta ehkä hieman vaikeasti seurattava. Toisaalta sitä on edeltänyt jo 6 puhetta, joten siinä mielessä on näköharha lukea tämä teksti ensimmäisenä puheena ja kuulla tämä sama teksti seitsemäntenä puheena — ja olettaa reseption olevan sama. Kun ihmiset ovat jossakin sisällä, he ymmärtävät sitäkin, mitä maallikot eivät tajua. Sisältö on kuultu jossakin muussakin yhteydessä, mutta onhan aihe tai agenda toistaiseksi ratkaisematon.

 

Anyone Can’t Play Guitar

Normaali

Viikko 33


 

Motion: THB that even if guitar-driven rock ’n roll is dead it can be resuscitated
Role: MP/Rep. (govt.)
Date: Aug 19th, 2016


The electric guitar used to be the instrument of choice among male teenagers the post-war world over. It could be heard on records from the Beatles to Def Leppard to Hole to Linkin Park. Now it seems, though, that young men cannot grab a guitar in the same sense as they used to, with a resulting impoverishment of pop music.

What is the secret of the guitar?

A couple of Freudian explanations have been offered to explain away the popularity of the guitar. Some have professed that the guitar is, because it is hard, long and thin when it comes to the neck, a phallic symbol. In consequence, when the guitarist is shredding on the frets, he is, in fact, doing what some people do under the duvet. When I first heard this explanation, I shrugged it off, because it felt plain wrong. I could have countered the claim by asking, ”what then about the girls who play guitar; are they also playing with their dong?”

Another explanation, this time one that I liked much better was that guitar was a token for the female body. Some have professed that the guitar is, because it is round, curvy and warm in a down-to-earth way when it comes to its body, a feminine presence. In consequence, when the guitarist is operating on the frets, he is, in fact, doing what guys do when they try to seduce someone and take the initiative, ”hitting on the Angel”. Someone else could have countered the claim by asking, ”what then about the girls who play guitar; are they also playing with their lesbian love?”

The Freudian explanations should go the way of Freud himself. Even though he contributed immensely to the vocabulary of psychology, and the conceptual cloakroom, his ideologies have met 21st-century minds that do not seem to operate anymore as perpetual sex machines. Thus, music shouldn’t be the only enclave left in the world to be stuck with interpretations of his kind. Not even if music as a word stems from the root word ”muse”, in a sly reference to antiquity that Mr Psychology was so enamoured of as a source for globally valid answers.

What…. then?

The guitar, I think, has been as good as a musical instrument gets, because is such a great interpreter of the male mind and its mood swings. Think about the whole package (and I’m here talking mostly about the electric guitar rather than its twin sisters Spanish/acoustic guitar or different halfway models):

  1. The guitar, when it’s electrified, can go very fast from a ”whisper” to a ”scream”. If the player wants to showcase his aggression, he has plenty of pedals and knobs to turn (to) to make it happen. This, however, does not prevent him from showing his gentler side in playing the guitar in a jangly, more treble-oriented way, or surf guitar (think Chris Isaak and his band), or a folky, campfire-in-the-woods kind of way (think ”Patience” by Gn’R or ”That’s the Way” (1970) by Led Zep).
  2. If the player is thinking in a fuzzy and dim way, he may use the low [end of the] strings.
  3. If the player is thinking in a lucid and sharp way, he may use the high [end of the] strings.
  4. If the player is sensing minimal movements of the mind, he may move his fingers only one # or b at a time back and forth on the chromatically organised fretboard.
  5. If the player is having escapist, exotic dreams, he may opt for playing more exotic scales from misty Celtic to religious Arabic to pentatonic Japanese ones.
  6. If the player is sensing maximal movements of the mind, he may put layer upon layer of effect-laden guitar on tape in the studio as long as he knows what he is doing (instead of hallucinating).
  7. Moreover, the guitar adapts well as a band instrument. It can perform solo over all the other instruments when amplified to a sufficient degree, or it may be used for just building a ”wall of sound”, shoring up the sound of the rest of the band like a good lieutenant. The guitar is such a good instrument, for it adapts to hierarchies, militancy, maverick soloing, conformity and solitary sidestepping, even if these are mutually contradictory directions. The guitar is a versatile workhorse, one of man’s best friends.

In any event, you have probably noticed that guitar has slowly but surely slid out of the soundscape of radio-played records. It has become rarer and rarer, and some stations have forsaken it completely.

For all that, the guitar alone shouldn’t be enough to satisfy a musician’s noise-source needs. It’s disappointing with what kind of equipment music is being churned out these days. I would say that it was better if a musician owned 200 different acoustic, amplified and electronic instruments and used some of them to produce his musical oeuvre, getting to know one of them each month in his career, than if a musician owned two instruments (a computer with software and a mixer) and used both of them to produce his entire musical output.

The guitar must be returned to the frontline.

Thank you.


Puheen kesto: 6 min 21 sek
Arvio: * * *. Puheessa on puolitehoinen alku, sillä alun verryttelyä ei todellakaan tarvita toimivaan puheeseen. Ennemminkin kyse on siitä, että sillä yritetään saada yleisö kuuntelemaan korvat höröllä, jotta sitten pystyttäisiin saamaan varsinainen pointti, eli soittimen suosion syyt yleisesti hyväksyttäviksi. Puheen rakentamisessa monesti unohdetaan, että liian tiivis, pointteja täynnä oleva puhe, usein sekoaa omaan näppäryyteensä ja menettää sen yhden henkilön, jota ei saisi menettää: kuulijan.

Clogging Clutter in the Corners

Normaali

Viikko 32


 

Motion: THW boost the economy by having skips sent to alleys, avenues, streets and squares by the state
Role: Whip (govt.)
Date: Aug 12th, 2016


I read today about two women waging a debate on the pages of a women’s magazine (under the rubric of ”debate”) about whether a woman named Marie Kondo is already too popular for her own good in this country. What this means in practise is that she is urging people to throw away anything that they own if that something no longer brings them pleasure or is in use. To simplify, if you no longer read your own Donald Duck comix, chuck ’em in the ditch. If you no longer drink alcohol, throw what little you may have left in the gutter. In the debate, one woman defended the attitude, while the other was not entirely against it but mentioned how it has become ”like a middle-class religion” and how material possessions actually give us comfort and joy when administered well in the right context.

The funny thing was that in the aforementioned women’s debate, the younger woman (at 32) was defending more the right to own ”s**t”, or, let’s call it ”stuff”. One might have guessed that it would have been the other way round. The explaining factor was possibly that the younger one was also a blogger, writing a Blog, whereby she receives shipments from different kinds of cloth or accessory manufacturers in the hopes that she’ll mention or review them on her blog. As she has become a ”victim” of ”free stuff”, it’s understandably harder for her to say no to all that free stuff. It’s also a part of her professional identity, and that is hard to shed as we all know.

What should be said about that? Should we dig into the history of not owning stuff?

If we look into the history of the matter, I’d say that we discover two avantgarde groups who have disowned stuff in the past. One group is those with a theological mindset. Religious people in the course of history (Reformist Christians, Greek and Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus) have often owned very little, being cloistered away in monasteries and convents as monks and nuns and their superordinates. In their view, possessions of the earthly kind pale in comparison with possessions of the heavenly kind. Peace of mind is more important than a 3-piece suit. The book of souls is more important than books and soles. Maybe they were onto something. We don’t know. Posterity has not had a chance to chat with those who have gone into the beyond, with or without a religious badge on their lapel.

Another group that has been leery of stuff is what I’d term the ”advanced bourgeoisie”. The ideology of these people is to live in a minimalist way, buying only the best products available at high-end prices and buying only what they need. They may own only 5 shirts, one computer, three pairs of shoes, a Japanese kitchen knife, a blender, an espresso machine etc. etc. etc. In the end, one may end up owning quite many commodities that could be termed ”luxury”, but the idea is nevertheless to reduce the amount of stuff to a manageable cupboardful by raising its quality price-wise and lopping off all the rambling accessories that a self-focussed urban professional does not need.  These people use money in a way that tries to retain as much of its value as possible both on the bank account and at home.

What unites the two avant-guard groups is that of course both tend to be single in their most textbookesque incarnations. It’s so much easier to be without stuff when one is without children as well.

I would say that in spite of some of their slightly ”misanthropic” qualities these two groups are fundamentally right. You don’t need stuff. You can do without it. I know it deep down when I’m staring at the wall, without any toys, gadgets and joys, and feeling uniquely focussed and unbored. I don’t long to live inside of a prison (where the stimuli are minimal, thin on the ground, so to speak) but I’m actually longing to live inside a cell of an apartment as long as I can go out as well to enjoy the freedom of the (sub)urban community around me. This brings us around to the insight that maybe after all, even though it’s a cliché, the real riches are human relationships and collectivity.

I would say that you should aim for the stuff-free Life. Think of it as the extension of your personal mobility. It would enable you to change cities, condos, countries and continents. One thing is the fact that you are probably carrying around a mobile phone, erm…, that’s the old term; the new term must be the smartphone. Now, if you’re so smart that you are carrying a smartphone, why should you be so unsmart as to let your belongings weigh down your personal freedom when your smartphone is trying to give you as much of it as (humanly) possible? There would be a contradiction there.

Thank you.


Puheen kesto: 6 min 24 sek
Arvio (whip)puheena: * * (* * ½). Puhe onnistuu vangitsemaan kuulijansa mielenkiinnon napakalla aloituksellaan, joka on napattu mediasta. Hyvillä jaotteluilla eteenpäin menemällä se pääsee johdattelevaan lopputulokseensa. Sinällään hieno puhe kärsii loppupuheenvuorona siitä, ettei siinä ole viittauksia oman puolen aiempiin kannanottoihin tai vastapuolen torjuntoja. Siksi se sopisi parhaiten jommaksikummaksi aloitusparin puheeksi. Näiden voidaan kuitenkin olettaa käsittelevän aloitteen roskalava- ja valtio-sanojen tuomia mielleyhtymiä ensisijaisesti (aloitteita usein tulkitaan sana kerrallaan), joten whip-puheena tämä ei olisi summaava vaan soveltava ja pyrkisi tuomaan esiin yhtä otsikon mukaista näkökantaa. Sellaisenkin whip-puhesuorituksen voi kirjoittaa, jos ei jaksa olla ”kunnon” whip.