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The Clutter Culture - Feature - UCLA Magazine Online

The Clutter Culture - Feature - UCLA Magazine Online
By Jack Feuer Published Jul 1, 2012 8:00 AM "For more than 40,000 years," write the authors, "intellectually modern humans have peopled the planet, but never before has any society accumulated so many personal possessions." Get stuff. Walk into any dual-income, middle-class home in the U.S. and you will come face to face with an awesome array of stuff—toys, trinkets, family photos, furniture, games, DVDs, TVs, digital devices of all kinds, souvenirs, flags, food and more. George Carlin famously observed that "a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it." We are a clutter culture. A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance (Trailer) UCLA anthropologists venture into the stuffed-to-capacity homes of dual income, middle-class American families. Click here to watch full episodes. Video by UCTV Prime Now, however, a new book titled Life at Home in the 21st Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors takes the exploration of contemporary material culture inside American homes for the first time. Related:  Irony, Postmodernism, and Our Current Age

The Joke’s on You | Steve Almond Steve Almond [from The Baffler No. 20, 2012] Among the hacks who staff our factories of conventional wisdom, evidence abounds that we are living in a golden age of political comedy. The New York Times nominates Jon Stewart, beloved host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, as the “most trusted man in America.” His protégé, Stephen Colbert, enjoys the sort of slavish media coverage reserved for philanthropic rock stars. Bill Maher does double duty as HBO’s resident provocateur and a regular on the cable news circuit. But their sanctification is not evidence of a world gone mad so much as an audience gone to lard morally, ignorant of the comic impulse’s more radical virtues. Our lazy embrace of Stewart and Colbert is a testament to our own impoverished comic standards. Fans will find this assessment offensive. We have come to accept coy mockery as genuine subversion and snarky mimesis as originality. What’s notable about these episodes, though, is how uncharacteristic they are. You got that?

Pick One Abundance is a curse. You can have anything that you want for lunch. So why eat another bland fast food hamburger and fries? There are literally hundreds of shows on the television. So why stare at another hour of screaming reality TV stars? You don’t eat, drink, or watch bad things because they are cheap. You are responsible for what you consume. If I told you that you could watch just one movie this month, you might spend more time considering your choice. Your options are virtually unlimited. Pick one. Like this: Like Loading... Pick One by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Tagged as: choice, drink, eat, food, Movies, options, TV, watch

BBC Future column: Why we love to hoard Here’s last week’s column from BBC Future. The original is here. It’s not really about hoarding, its about the endowment effect and a really lovely piece of work that helped found the field of behavioural economics (and win Daniel Kahneman a Nobel prize). Oh, and I give some advice on how to de-clutter, lifehacker-style. Question: How do you make something instantly twice as expensive? Answer: By giving it away. This might sound like a nonsensical riddle, but if you’ve ever felt overly possessive about your regular parking space, your pen, or your Star Wars box sets, then you’re experiencing some elements behind the psychology of ownership. This riddle actually describes a phenomenon called the Endowment Effect. You can see how the endowment effect escalates – how else can you explain the boxes of cassette tapes, shoes or mobile phones that fill several shelves of your room… or even several rooms? No trade Classic economics states that the students should begin to trade with each other.

A Timothy Leary for the Viral Video Age - Ross Andersen - Technology Meet Jason Silva, the fast-talking, media-savvy "performance philosopher" who wants you to love the ecstatic future of your mind. I want to introduce you to Jason Silva, but first I want you to watch this short video that he made. It will only take two minutes, and watching it will give you a good idea if it's worth your time to read the extensive interview that follows: If you ever wondered what would happen if a young Timothy Leary was wormholed into 2012, complete with a film degree and a Vimeo account, you have your answer: Jason Silva. If Silva, who was born in Venezuela, seems to have natural screen presence, it's because he's no stranger to media; he worked for six years as a host at Current TV before leaving the network last year to become a part-time filmmaker and full-time walking, talking TEDTalk. Like Leary, Silva is an unabashed optimist; he sees humankind as a species on the brink of technology-enabled transcendence. Silva: Definitely. Right. You can even go beyond that.

Living With Less. A Lot Less. I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets. Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me. My circumstances are unusual (not everyone gets an Internet windfall before turning 30), but my relationship with material things isn’t. We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true. For me, it took 15 years, a great love and a lot of travel to get rid of all the inessential things I had collected and live a bigger, better, richer life with less. It started in 1998 in Seattle, when my partner and I sold our Internet consultancy company, Sitewerks, for more money than I thought I’d earn in a lifetime. It got worse.

How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide ‘You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.’ ~Mike Murdock By Leo Babauta Start with a simple statement: what do you want to be? Are you hoping to someday be a writer, a musician, a designer, a programmer, a polyglot, a carpenter, a manga artist, an entrepreneur, an expert at something? How do you get there? Do you set yourself a big goal to complete by the end of the year, or in three months? I’m going to lay down the law here, based on many many experiments I’ve done in the last 7 years: nothing will change unless you make a daily change. I’ve tried weekly action steps, things that I do every other day, big bold monthly goals, lots of other permutations. If you’re not willing to make it a daily change, you don’t really want to change your life in this way. So make a daily change. How to Turn an Aspiration Into a Daily Change Let’s name a few aspirations: How do you turn those lofty ideas into daily changes? You get the idea. How to Implement Daily Changes

What is it we're longing for? Psychological study The Clutter Diet Blog The Salvation Army and Goodwill: Inside the places your clothes go when you donate them Spencer Platt/Getty. It was early morning at the Quincy Street Salvation Army, an easy-to-miss location tucked away on a Brooklyn side street. The only donations that had come in so far were books, an entire truck full from one single apartment. Charitable clothing donations usually roll in with fits and starts, with the changing of the seasons and at the end of the year, when people are looking for tax write-offs. It was on a weekday morning in the middle of the fall, the off-hours for clothing donations. But I didn’t have to witness someone pulling up their car and shoveling bags full of clothes from the trunk. Michael Noneza, otherwise known as “Maui,” one of the donation center’s assistant supervisors, bounced into the warehouse. The Quincy Street Salvation Army may be on a quiet out-of-the-way street, but it is the main distribution center serving eight Salva­tion Army locations in Brooklyn and Queens. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images.

Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’ A few years later, I reluctantly lent my collection of magazines to a (now former) friend. He had just bought a house that he had no idea what to do with. I, on the other hand, had nothing but ideas. O.K., they weren’t strictly mine, in the sense that these ideas were acquired, arranged, styled, photographed, published and distributed by entities bearing no relation to me whatsoever. Of course, I didn’t realize any of this until my friend returned my magazines to me with dozens of pages torn out, having either forgotten or ignored my admittedly ridiculous request that he make photocopies instead. The whole embarrassing situation could have been avoided if Pinterest existed then. This kind of visual catch-bin blog has become disconcertingly common, for reasons that a cultural theorist like Walter Benjamin would perhaps be hard pressed to explain. I’m not a big Pinterest user (more of a lurker, really), but the over-the-top monetary valuation doesn’t entirely surprise me.

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