385. A warning or a honey trap?

I have a confession to make. I ran a little experiment on you a few weeks ago. I titled Twitteretter 357 ‘Warning. Sex, nudity and sexual violence’. Why am I telling you this? My Youtube statistics tell me that this has been, by a large margin, my most watched video in the last month. This is a bit embarrassing for my audience, I think. Clearly, the warning so widely used by Netflix and others seems to have the opposite effect to its purported purpose, attracting viewers as bees to honey, rather than keeping them away. This may to a point explain the profligacy with which these warnings are used by the media industry. There is no point, I guess, on acting shocked on this discovery, it is actually what we expected. I have observed, for as long as I have been around, that these subjects fascinate humans in a way in which more interesting subjects do not. Just imagine the effect of a message reading ‘Warning, discussions on philosophy, theology, socioeconomics and behavioural psychology’

384. The World at your fingertips

I grew up in a poor corner of Western Europe, especially then, the Santiago de Compostela of the 1970s. I remember, as a child, watching with wide eyed fascination Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the World Cup, the Olympics, the ATP Masters, the V Nations, the chess World Champs or Vienna’s New Year’s concert. Events I grew up in love with, which, from my provincial perspective, seemed out of reach, confined to the realm of distant television voyeurism. Today, half a life later, I have been, in person, to all of them, at locations all over the World, except the last. Some, several times. And I just bought the tickets for the New Year’s concert. This got me musing about how much smaller the World has become, certainly for me, throughout my life. What seemed impossible in the 70s is now real life. Completely unbeknown to me, of course, this was already reality then for Spanish elites, those of ‘high breeding’, who will, I guess, never experience quite the wonderment that 1970s child does

383. Dead man's shoes

I am considering moving house, within UK, and have started cursorily looking at properties. In some London suburbs, those you would like to live in, a four bedroom house with a bit of garden, relatively close to a tube station, even at the far end of the line, sells for around £2.5Mn. This is whilst the average UK salary remains stubbornly stuck at around £30,000. These houses are worth 80 times the average salary. This is difficult to comprehend, and one has to ask the question, who is buying these properties? It cannot be working people. Or maybe it can. I have been giving this considerable thought, as I am fascinated by the apparently unexplainable. I wonder whether this market is sustained by inheritance, the combined result of smaller families and of older parents owning now expensive property which was acquired cheaply and which, when passed down, is sold to fund upgrading. Living in a desirable property may be becoming a multigenerational project. Bad news if your family is poor

382. Zoom botox or tweaks

This is apparently a new phenomenon, caused by the increase in the use of web meeting tools, brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It appears that the plastic surgery and aesthetic enhancement industries have seen a rise in their activity as a result. The rationale (it is hard to use this word in this context, but I use it in its explanation, rather than rationality, meaning) of this phenomenon goes as follows: Many people are having regular web meetings, in which they spend a lot of time staring at their own faces on screen. And many are, apparently, unhappy with their looks, which is driving them to resort to interventions in an attempt, in many cases ill fated, to improve them. This is something fascinating about modern humans. We may have good reason to improve our body and mind, which we can do ourselves with a bit of effort and determination, but many choose to, instead, have someone try to improve their face, forgetting it is, according to St Jerome, the mirror of their sou

381. The garden waste conundrum

I hope you won’t think two articles on waste a waste. On entertainment value alone, they are nothing but. I’ve found myself the proud owner of a large amount of garden waste. I know this is disposed of in different colour bags, which I’ve not previously used. Sensible, I say, garden waste has characteristics which duly justify its separation from other, less environmental streams. So, armed with Quixotic optimism, with my laptop as my own, slim lined Sancho Panza, I set off exploring how this works in the UK. After a complex search, full of misadventures which truly justify the Cervantes analogy, I discovered that the green sacks are available for mail order purchase from the local council. Once received, you put your garden waste in them and place them for collection with the normal waste. They will be collected together, and landfilled together, the green bags serving the sole purpose of adding a bit of colour to the otherwise boringly black landfill sites. I cannot wait to try it ou

380. What on earth is going on with recycling in the UK?

The UK is richer than Spain, for now and whilst Brexit does not show its full effect, which will still take the best part of a generation. I live in two similar size cities, Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, and Hereford, in UK. Both provincial backwaters, far from the buzz of the capitals. They could, however, not be more different from the perspective of recycling. In Santiago, you can dispose of seven different waste streams at any time in the day, in your own street. In UK, you get one waste stream, which you can dispose off once every two weeks. If you want to separate more, or don’t want your house to be filled by a mountain of yet to be recycled waste, you can take it to the recycling centre yourself, appealing to Brits’ love of DIY. This is great fun, only by appointment, which you must secure online, with weekend slots typically filled well in advance. Will I have availability three weeks on Saturday, at 13.45, for such an exciting adventure? Can I maybe do it by MS Teams? Len

379. The cult of the CEO

Humans have shown, over millennia, a pervasive instinct to build deities. Initially, from natural phenomena. The Sun, the stars, wind, thunder. They were all deified. They were followed by others, more powerful and abstractly complex, as cultures evolved. Some, punishing and unforgiving, the God of the Old Testament or those idolised by Aztecs or Mayans. Others, caring and loving. All, omnipresent and omnipotent. At some point in the second half of the XX century, as we became more sophisticated, we seemed to, finally, abandon our reliance on a superior being and started to see ourselves as possessing the ultimate agency in our environment. But old habits die hard. I see, in my interactions with some corporations, a god like cult of their CEO, feared and revered in equal measure. His or her subjects, sorry, employees, thirsty for any measure of interaction, for that occasional revelation or instant of attention from their CEO, all powerful, master of all things. Will we ever grow up? L