Monthly Archives: September 2011

Skirting the Issue

Disclaimer: What follows below is the radically abbreviated version of a piece that spanned the better part of 8,000 words. I have spared you by removing, in essence, the diverging opinions and their myriad reasons and statistical quantifications as well as some of the debate in monologue I was having with myself on their behalf. What remains is the core of the issue, along with my unpopular opinion, in a short, reader-friendly editorial of less than 1500 words.

As always your comments are appreciated, both publically and privately, and I look forward to hearing from you all.

 

Without further ado:

 

 

Skirting the Issue

 

Much like heavy weight title fights where promoters do their utmost to ensure the biggest possible hype for the shortest possible fight  – a real life example of securing your investment and the age-old idiom ‘time is money’ – Japanese media is dragging their long-standing tradition of school uniforms through another round of frenzied pseudo-intelligible debate. For those of you who know even the slightest thing about this issue, you will not be surprised to hear that once again it is the skirt length of the girl uniforms that has caused all the hullabaloo, and no, not because they are too long.

 

So, the girls in Japan are back to rolling up, hemming, and tucking their way to shorter skirt lengths than are mandated by their schools. This is not news. Japan has had ample time to develop an entire sub culture around the issue of young girls in short skirts, but every so often there is a public outcry (presumably to appease the parents of sexually precocious adolescents), where many brows are furrowed, data is collected (often comically), and everyone concludes this is a serious issue only to be forgotten within a week.

Still varying opinions abound both as to the cause of this epidemic of skirt shortening as well as its effects. I heard an elderly lady say in a live television interview that short skirts draw attention from boys as if to suggest human beings should be the only mammals on earth that communicate budding sexuality through telepathy as opposed to signs the opposite sex can easily pick up on. All kidding aside, there are arguments to be made in favor of both school uniforms and skirts that leave slightly more to the imagination. Studies into the phenomenon accompanying the implementation of school uniforms are few and far between, most studies focusing instead on schools that either have long had, or have yet to implement school uniforms and comparing the two, but there are some compelling reasons and fun numerical statistics to promote the idea. Whatever your personal view, be it for or against, if you are reading this chances are you are well beyond the stage where this decision affects you personally. Though it may be true that you feel strongly one way or the other with respect to your own children, I think the issue is merely a symptom of a much larger issue. Namely, children, especially those in high school, suffer an enormous burden whether they realize it or not. Children, otherwise known as human offspring, are (in horribly oversimplified terms) the sum of two parts. You know them as mom and dad.

 

In stark contrast to mom and dad however, at some point – often quite unexpectedly – you became your own person, complete with silly notions and fervently held opinions. By the time children reach high school this process is well under way. In this most dreaded phase of human development known as adolescence, the biological imperative to be unique and self-sufficient outs itself as defiance, irrational emotions, misdirected anger and appearance. The keen observer will have noticed that these separate issues come together nicely in the subject at hand and speak to some of the reasons Japanese school girls prefer short skirts to the standard-issue knee-length fashion faux pas they are forced to buy at the commencement of their secondary education (the elementary and middle school uniforms are different).

Without speaking to motive, I want to address causality. Having read more than I intended to on the subject and having lived in Japan for a few years now I have come to understand something that is missing entirely from the debate. Even tourists who come to Japan with nothing but their foolish albeit amusing preconceptions of samurai warriors and geishas roaming the streets of modern day Tokyo quickly discover a truth inherent to the national identity of the vast majority of Japanese: once grown, they are among the most respectful, well-mannered, and impeccably dressed adults on the planet. Look around you in Tokyo at anyone over the age of 18 and you will immediately notice that gone are the tube socks, and pleated miniskirts (to my great dismay!) having been replaced by sensible work clothes, elegant ladies wear reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn meets Alice in Wonderland (the old, family friendly Disney version) and a perfectly delightful demeanor. These women know, better even than the finest ‘experts’ in the field, that no matter how they dressed in high school, they have come to recognize that distinct period of time in their lives as an ultimately (very) fleeting phase. Why that fact does not nip the issue in the bud is beyond me, but presumably the media would be flummoxed – much like the characters of a two-hour action movie – what to do with the remaining time if the plot issues are all resolved three minutes in.

 

Better yet, the Japanese school year – among the longest in the world – paired with their exceptional philosophy for education, and cultural willingness to work their collective asses off means that even whilst wearing skirts so short they could make a stripper blush they consistently score better on exams than their Western counterparts (and most certainly the strippers). Education in Japan is about more than school and frankly it shows. I cannot begin to describe how little the length of a girl’s skirt has to do with the end product of 12-20 years of education. In a similar vein to how I was assured by my parents, my teachers, and frankly everyone I met from the moment I set foot in a school to the day I graduated high school that “math is very important later on in life,” I have yet to avail myself of my extensive (though catastrophically rusty) knowledge of advanced trigonometry and imaginary numbers since joining what is affectively life. Surely if the countless hours of needlessly complicated math lessons were a complete waste of time, surely the clothes I wore have long since lost any and all relevance as well.

 

Proponents of school uniforms as well as the fashion fascists who insist on knee-length skirts are not without basis for their desire to see 18-year-olds dress like nuns from the 1970s, but considering the overwhelming evidence to the contrary as mentioned above, and the fact that these people do not have to wear the uniforms themselves, I think we should all have a coke and a smile and let this one slide. Alas, I knew from the moment the newscaster opened his mouth it was not to be and thus:

 

Endless time and money is being spent, nay, wasted in an utterly futile attempt to drive the budding humanity from our children as soon as it emerges. Quite expectedly, the kids are having none of it – as they have not for the countless century man has marked the passage of time – and in a wonderfully self-evident display of my point roll down their skirts for inspection only to smile and roll them back up as soon as the slightly perverted headmaster puts the measuring tape away. I applaud the girls for realizing, even in their precocious adolescence, that the very notion of telling a teenage girl what to do is fraught with the same difficulties as preventing the sun from rising and having the mental acuity to pick up on the hilarity of the situation.

I do not mean to suggest we should let our kids do whatever they please, nor that setting clear boundaries is ineffective or unnecessary, but I am saying that stymieing a child’s individualism because we have all learned to be uncomfortable with the skin on other people’s thighs is ridiculous.

The other side of the same argument is one I have personal experience with. Namely, I was once a high school boy and can safely say that the level of interest I had in girls at the time had reached its maximum level – well above the limits adults consider safe – long before the girls reached the age where wearing risqué miniskirts became a thing. Short of dressing all the girls in the elegant garb of radical Islamic nations, there is not a damn thing that can be done about the biological imperative that burns within young men and women to seek each other out and procreate. The very fact that even well into adulthood most men have only partial and fleeting control over their genitalia would suggest that attempting to circumvent this problem through a dress code is akin to such spectacular lunacy as to rival the plot line of most porn films.

 

I say, rather than attempting to rationalize our fascination with and propensity for imposing our values on others by measuring skirt lengths and pretending the corresponding number bears any relevance with regard to education we hand these kids some condoms and tell them they can dress however they like.

 


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On Macs, choice, and the power of aesthetics

I have dreaded the following subject as an author because inevitably my wildly unpopular position on the matter will alienate the small fan base I have, and destroy any chance of growing it once my opinion has been heard. Still, I must speak for the simple reason that I can no longer be silent – this article is about the virtues of owning a Mac(intosh computer).

So I fancy myself a bit of an artist, and have the bachelor degree to go with that claim, naturally I own a Mac because they are superior graphics machines, or so I’ve heard. In all honesty however that is not why I own a Mac. My family, starting with my father, has had Macs in the house since the Apple SE became available to the public, and despite two PCs sneaking their way into my life; I have been an avid Mac user since. I use the word ‘user,’ because it sounds less provocative than ‘fan,’ or worse, ‘supporter.’ Notice that I do not particularly care if my Mac is the very best computer available to me, or even that there are comparable PCs that cost less money. Mine is not a decision based on raw computing power, compatibility, or even cost (though I am limited in that department just like most people). My decision to stay with Macs is based largely on the fact that Apple Computers Incorporated have long understood a basic fact about the personal computer that their PC counterparts have only recently begun to appreciate. Allow me to explain.

The contemporary, 21st century human spends a great deal of time staring at computer screens. Whereas a short 20 years ago computers were odd items to find prominently displayed in someone’s home, current incarnations of computers have quite literally embedded themselves into our homes, even going so far as to be integrated into other appliances. Touch screen, digital refrigerators as well as digital picture frames, there are processors in all of them a damn side more intelligent than the ‘super computers’ that landed Neil Armstrong on the moon. Living in Japan even the bathrooms brim with computing power, from heads-up-displays in the mirror to toilets that perform actions upon your person for which Western men pay a lot of money. Suffice to say, with the number of computers constantly around us, it goes to reason that we may wish some elements of design to be incorporated in them. This is the aspect of personal computers that Apple has long understood – very simply put, their computers are better looking than PCs.
Even as far back as the 1990s, Apple set an unprecedented trend in personalized computing by churning out a line of smoke-black versions of their computers in stark contrast to the then industry standard, officially named: ‘non-descript warm gray 04.’ They also came up with the original iMacs – a series of brightly colored abominations that ushered-in a new era of design for personal computers. Hell, they even beat everyone to the punch with a black PDA, the Apple Newton, long before Blackberries became a thing. It has been this level of design that has always had a profound affect on me. I am a sucker for a well-designed implement, be it digital or analog, or even a mundane object. This is the reason we find beauty in nature whose many flowers, grand vistas, and fancily-striped animals are not there for the benefit of our aesthetic cravings but are appealing in that way nonetheless. Apples – that is, the computers, not the fruit – speak to that part of our humanity. As much as the iPhone and iPod have been global sales phenomenon, more or less being responsible for the bulk of Apple’s profits, and the savior of the company as a whole, their existence is the current pinnacle of a long evolution of design. The term ‘ergonomics’ comes readily to mind when you find rather unsurprisingly that both the iPhone and the iPod fit so snugly into your hand, (replacing the fat wad of cash that was there moments before you bought it), as though it was designed to do just that. It was, exactly for that purpose, in addition to being aesthetically appealing and of course capable of doing the tasks required of it.

I know the counter arguments, I even subscribe to some of them, but I cannot allow myself to buy a PC when Apple consistently churns out machines that look sleek, professional and even – dare I say it – a bit cool. This is the curse of the artist: an abject failing within the rational part of the brain to overrule our creative side that demands things to look pretty, even when said thing is nearly twice the price of something that more or less performs the same tasks. This is why people buy Aston Martins that cost twice, three times, even five times as much as cars that out perform them in every measurable way. Astons, you see, are very pretty. Incidentally it is also the reason rich men marry dumb blondes – a brunette with a PhD in culinary arts may be a more apt choice for the kitchen, but there’s something about the aesthetic of a blonde woman that has a profound affect on a man’s ability to come to rational conclusions. It is a mistake to underestimate the power of design. Look around you, in all likelihood everything you see around you has been designed. In some cases the engineers and/or management types may have made budget cuts vis-a-vis the design department, but someone, somewhere, sat there and designed every last thing you own. Why are these people being paid to waste time and money making things look pretty? Because we care, even when we don’t particularly notice. There have been numerous studies that show babies (much like grown men actually) prefer women with pretty faces. Surely the babies are not making a rational decision. Like adults, babies are hard-wired to like pretty things. This is one of the main reason Apple still exists and hasn’t succumbed to the competition.

Side note: I think the best commercial Mac could run on television is a baby having to choose between a Mac and a PC and crawling towards the Mac. That is the kind of advertising power politicians can only dream of.

So Macs are pretty objects, which is good, because as I said we spend a lot of time looking at our computers, but for me personally it goes beyond that.

I am forever saying people need to be more discerning in their choices as consumers. People do not seem to realize that if we actually organized ourselves into a coherent group, we could drive the prices of most everything we buy down whilst driving the quality up simply by refusing to settle for ‘good enough’ when we are filling our cart at the local Wal-Mart. I realize that is a gross oversimplification of the larger issue, but the essence of what I am saying is true. Every time someone pays money for an item that could have been made better but wasn’t it lowers the bar for the companies producing those items in terms of expectation. Worse, it ruins it for the rest of us by perpetuating a deteriorating status quo. Lowest common denominator consumerism isn’t pretty, and as the world population grows and more and more of what we consume is made cheaply, and poorly in China, the proverbial bar will continue its decent into depths held to be unimaginable by previous generations. In fact, I am going to state here and now, I think that is why the molecular bonds that form our human bodies cease to be when we grow old: they give up, appalled by what the new generation is doing to the quality of the things we buy (including social security – ZING!)
I digress – Apple it seems is a company that is unwilling to compromise away the very things that I appreciate about its products. They have consistently produced high-quality products that function, look great, and do not require endless tinkering at the consumer-end. I applaud this business philosophy, and will sponsor this defiance in the face of a hostile market saturated with lowest common denominator consumers, until one of us is dead. Apple, killed by the very sickness I describe above, or me, killed by my inability to stomach it.

I do not expect people who have PCs to read these tortured words and run to the nearest Apple store. Nor do I expect people to rationalize spending twice as much money on something if they honestly don’t see the point, but then I don’t have much faith in people. This article was not written to change anyone’s mind; it was written to explain a personal opinion, and one that I hope you can learn to share.

In summation: It is not enough for a computer to be utilitarian, it must earn its place in our lives through more than computing power; it must be every bit as good looking as our Italian-leather couches, and our solid mahogany desks. It must pass the same bar as our cars, and our clothes, and our significant others – it must do more than just the job, it must do it in a manner than pleases us.


Job Hunting – The End of Reason

They say you shouldn’t drive while drunk, nor talk to someone you love when you’re angry, but no one ever talks about when to write, or when not to write for that matter. Currently I would describe my mood as being somewhere between dangerously upset and downright angry, and I feel like writing whilst angry is a great idea. I should say that I waited to write during the initial heat of anger as your reading experience would have been marred somewhat by the myriad expletives I would have likely included in every fucking god damned sentence.

 

Why am I angry? Well, so many reasons really, but I suppose the heart of the matter lies in why I am currently angry, and why more so than usual. I will explain:

 

Searching for a job has been less fun in recent years than before banks realized then had less money than they thought they did and had been lending it to people who had even less than that. Now, with the US economy being held afloat by prayer and bravado (along with several hundred billion dollars in loans to other countries keeping the dollar from losing all significance in the international market), and the European collective economy banking on the Euro not defaulting when Greece implodes, it’s been less of a breeze.

To be honest, I haven’t helped matters by studying something vague and well received by the people who read resumes; I studied art and am paying for it with money I don’t have.

 

Let me start at the beginning. When you are about 18 years old a bottle of whisky made in the same year is worth a lot more than you are even as you clumsily grasp at adulthood with the unpracticed grip of an adolescent. If everything up to this point has gone reasonably well you’re graduating from high school and potentially going on to college where you will be molded into the keen and responsible adult you will need to be in order to get a job and perpetuate the cycle of life under the thumb of capitalism. (I told you I was angry – even hating on our way of life now) The truth is, I had no idea what being an adult meant when I was 18. Houses were to live in, food was to eat, and desk was for studying – that is about as far as my comprehension went at that point – my mind addled by girls and sports and other nonsense that wasn’t going to pay the bills come graduation day at college.

 

The euphoria of graduating, not once, but twice is great. Endorphins flood your body and you feel like you accomplished something, whether or not you actually did or not. In retrospect, bearing in mind the painful reality check of having to pay rent and being unable to, I should have studied something more sensible – finance or economics come readily to mind – as it seems people who study these things are employed no matter how incredibly dull, unimaginative, gutless, spineless, sheep-like, bound-for-indentured-servitude jackasses they are. (If you studied finance or economics I’m sure you’re wonderful, really, I meant other people…)

It seems to me that there is a tremendous disconnect between the line we are fed about going to college and the reality we face when all is said and done and you pack up your dorm for the last time to become a ‘real’ person.

Joining the workforce in your given field of (minimal) expertise seems to be reserved for those people who fall into either of the following four categories:

 

Category 1 – The people who were set long before they set foot in college to begin with.

 

I am talking about the people whose parent(s) work for, own, or are major shareholders in a company (or government) and are in a position to delegate the nuisance of hiring a questionably qualified family member as a stipulation of their contract.

 

Category 2 – Lucky bastards.

 

Some people manage, one way or the other, to secure gainful employment in ways we thought were possible only in movies. Some of you will have heard a few of these unlikely stories on television as a famous person is asked to describe how he or she got his or her start. “Well, that’s a funny story,” they will begin, and frankly it is all downhill from there. As much as we all hold out the silent hope we too may one day experience the kind of lucky break where we accidentally make Bill Gates smile because you did a funny looking flip when his driver struck you with his million-dollar car, it is, even in the most imaginative circumstances, a long shot. Hence the title of the Category 2 people: lucky bastards.

 

Category 3 – People who graduate summa cum laude from Ivy league universities with a double major in fields of knowledge beyond the purview of mere mortal men.

 

Most of us know, or have heard of someone a lot like this. He or she most likely spoke at your commencement, and was generally regarded on campus as the person most likely to be making a six-figure income straight out of school. Chances are, that’s exactly what they did, along with a slew of other students in the 99th percentile, who now pay others to buy their suits for them because it turns out you can’t be an expert on macro economics and international banking laws as well as possess a fabulous fashion sense. As fantastically qualified as category 2 people are however, they comprise a nigh-insignificant portion of the available applicants for jobs, even amongst other first-time job seekers, which brings us to…

 

Category 4 – Normal people.

 

You may have seen some of these in your day – normal people – the ones that look just like the rest of us, walk and talk like we do, and frankly are pretty much all in the same boat. We are the ones who graduated college (or not), had a single major (or not), and span the gamut from very qualified to not that qualified depending on the other factors that only come into play during job interviews if you do not belong to the other three above-mentioned categories.

We seek out jobs by the dozen, going down the list of jobs we’d like to be hired for until we’re a drunken night of swearing and an hour standing on the balcony contemplating how hard the pavement is below away from applying at McDonalds and hoping they’ll take us.

I should clarify that we are not without skills, or that companies aren’t hiring us, it’s that there is a tremendous amount of not hiring being done that outshines the actual hiring that is done. Worse still is the inescapable reality that whilst job hunting the vast majority of applications goes unanswered. In this, the 21st century, where an automated E-mail reply system is the backbone of any HR department, how can it be true that throngs of people sit by their phone/laptop refreshing their inbox every few second hoping for that one, ubiquitously anticipated positive reply that will change their lives, but are left to wallow in their doubt and penniless unemployment that grates at their self confidence? It is a travesty of injustice governed by no written law because might makes right, and in the case of corporate wold inc. vs the little guy, the little guy gets hosed, every time.

 

So, you’ve established you are in the group least likely to be hired, but the one you are most likely to belong to, and you are asking people around you for help – anything, to get a job that pays the bills. Friends and family, keen to help inundate you with advise, but, unless you skimmed over the 1st category and you actually belong to that crowd, they can do little of substance to help out. Moral support is about as good as it is going to get, and as the job search draws on from days into weeks, and weeks into months, even that can be hard to come by.

 

You sit in desperation, uncertain of all but the sun coming up on yet another day of misery and unemployment and with a deep sigh that comes from such depths of despair as you have never known, you give up. Broken and defeated you rest your head upon the desk the repo guys will soon take away from under you and then life, (or God, depending on your point of view), having decided your life can be made just a little bit worse, starts to fill your head with crazy ideas.

 

“I can move to Alaska and hunt bears with nothing but a pocket knife and put videos of my exploits on YouTube and become famous!” an oddly sincere voice in your head will say. “No, no… I can sign up for medical experiments and get paid to have penis enlargement pills tested on me! That’s easy!” another voice will say. Now your mind is in free fall, spiraling out of control as you turn slowly into one of the crazies living in the cardboard box in the park who’s multiple personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenia was so foreign to you until only moments ago. Voices you never knew cared to narrate your life make an impromptu appearance as they add insult to injury by making everybody think you’ve lost your god damned mind. So, as you contemplate contacting the people at Pfizer for a quadruple-strength, suppository version of their latest rock-hard boner-inducing wonder drug, and a little voice in your mind says “what’s the worst that could happen?” you find yourself eating the cigarette you were trying to smoke and blood pours from your nose mixing with the salty tears streaming from your red, sleep-deprived eyes as you reach a new low point in your life and you think it can’t possibly get any worse. With a loud rumbling outside and the crack and flash of thunder your power goes out and you are left sitting still in the darkness.

All kidding aside, job hunting is stressful, time consuming, and more than a little demeaning as the slew of unanswered applications and “thanks, but no thanks” E-mails pile up and you begin to develop a sense of worthlessness that demeans both your potential and your actual skills.

The truth is, there are probably a dozen or more companies, somewhere, that would be happy to have you. They tend not to be the companies you want to work for, nor do they tend to be the best in the business as those companies will tend to attract the category 3 crowd.

 

Even if your search for work takes you away from your field of expertise and study, as it has with me, there are some skills you are blessed with by virtue of being born a certain place, or having learned a certain thing along the way. Imagine then my surprise when not one, not two, but five English schools in Japan see to think that my level of English proficiency (which the International Baccalaureate people recognize as ‘higher level’) rejected me from teaching people who speak a mix of English ranging from none at all to just a little from bringing to bear my frankly not inconsiderable talents as a native speaker. Was I discouraged by their idiotic refusal to take me on? Yes. Was I angry when I did not get a call back from an employer who was looking for people to do voice-over work without ever having heard me speak? Very. But here’s the thing:

 

What it comes down to then is not just how much you are willing to lower and debase yourself just to make ends meet (anyone can be a Walmart greeter – I know this to be fact) but also how long you can afford to wait. Whether through a bank loan, crashing on a friend’s couch and eating dry cereal for six months, or moving back in with your parents as a failed and penniless adult, I refuse to allow my positive attitude to be permanently maligned by a malignant world.

It is this very thing, this indomitable positive attitude that would like great on a resume if only companies actually cared about the people filing resumes as opposed to just the words printed on the page. I cannot begin to describe how many dismally negative people permeate every office in which I have ever had the misfortune to set foot, but I can assure you that no matter how hard the companies I am applying to ignore me, the first one that gets its head out of its ass and takes the leap will be gaining a fun and happy guy!

 

 

 

 


Upmarket water – a consumer’s perspective

Those of you as disillusioned as I am will find you are rarely surprised by the pseudo-comical ways in which companies strive to convince us to buy their products. In recent years the upward trend has been the retroactive inflation of non-alcoholic beverages, including water. I will state for the record that water is nearly as abundant on this earth as the bullshit marketing departments come up with whilst trying to offload the stuff onto the consumer. Water, if you recall from middle school chemistry is two parts hydrogen – literally the most abundant element in the universe – and one part oxygen, of which we also have plenty. Yet when we absentmindedly pull a bottle of water off the rack at our local supermarket you are getting fucked with your pants on.
As I said, that doesn’t surprise me in the least – having a profound understanding of how readily greed manifests itself in even the most well intentioned among us – and similarly realizing that most of you don’t seem to give a damn.
When gas price in the US broke $3 I am certain a secret meeting was convened in the White House situation room, as the President and his national security counsel discussed how to handle the seemingly imminent violent overthrow of the federal government. We will move right past the fact that gas prices are far higher in almost every other 1st-world nation, and that water is more expensive still. Odd, when you think your V8 probably won’t do so well on the stuff. (Then again I concede that neither will you if you start drinking 98 octane straight from the nozzle)
I think soft drink manufacturers got sick of watching people pay several hundred dollars for three quarters of a liter of wine – a measurement better know as “a bottle” – and decided they wanted in on that action. Short of lacing water with vodka and proclaiming it the latest thing, they did the next best thing: change absolutely nothing about the product except the price. Diabolical! But worse still was the consumer reaction: not a word in protest.

It all really began in earnest when the marketing department at Voss – a Norwegian upmarket water for yubbos – realized they could market their product right along side of much more expensive upmarket drinks, like 24-year-old whiskeys, and no matter how much they inflated the price, a bottle of water would still appear cheap by comparison. Their scheme worked brilliantly – based in no small part due to the fact that people with lots of money tend to waste it like the bills have an expiration date. Yubbos were buying Voss by the gallon in clubs, snooty restaurants, and as a chaser nearly as expensive as the similarly inflated shots at stylish vodka bars. Immediately other companies followed suit, rebranding their age-old fizzy drinks and stale waters alike to appeal to people with more money than sense. Within a few short years, water had gone from something your dog drinks from a bowl to something that costs more per gallon than gasoline although the latter doesn’t fall from the sky by the bucket load. (Although gasoline clouds would make air travel considerably more interesting)
Water is now being served in crystal cognac glasses so posh they make Posh Spice look like Martha Steward. Water, it seems, has been reborn.
Going back to the local supermarket, there is some evidence to support this theory. Right alongside products of less enlightened companies you will find ‘gourmet’ waters whose prices have long since breached the upper atmospheres of my tolerance. Now I admit water can have taste and that some do in fact taste better than others, but a can of coke costs less and tastes a hell of a lot better. With water turning trendy and riding the proverbial coat tails of all things ‘biological’ and devoid of calories, this is to be expected. What of value for money however? Sure the cost of collection, filtration, bottling, and transportation are all passed onto the consumer meaning lower yield, foreign waters will tend to be slightly more expensive than domestic ones, including the often overlooked water that flows from your taps. The mark-up however no longer has any real bearing on these additional costs. I have included some pictures of water available at my local supermarket and I think we can all agree that when you take the salt out of water from the pacific ocean you’re not exactly giving people something special; the pacific is the largest body of water on this planet which, ironically is constantly fed fresh water from rivers and rain. Taking the salt out in Hawaii and marketing it as fancy drinking water at a grossly inflated price is moronic but no more so than coughing up with $3.50 for a tiny bottle. Still worse than all of that are companies who sell perfectly ordinary water from some fetid body of water in New Jersey and stick it in a fancy bottle in an effort to justify the price they always wanted to charge but had no earthly reason to. The result, as pictured below, is a half liter bottle of water that costs the better part of 6 dollars US. For those of you frantically doing the math, that’s well over $20 a gallon. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

My fear is this is all going somewhere terrible in the long run. With the world population growing fast and fresh water already a highly prized commodity in many developing nations, will the next war be about potable water rather than oil? I fear there may come a time when we will kill by the millions our fellow man just so we can quench our thirst, but before that happens, the water companies are trying to satiate their greed.
Next time you buy a bottle of water, ask yourself: “what is this really worth?”