Posts concerning consumerism

Dropping the San Francisco Chronicle

23:54 19 May 2013

I’ve been a subscriber to the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 13 years, the entire time I’ve lived in the city. I started that subscription because I was used to living in a household where newspapers were a daily staple, and because I wanted to support local journalism. I also felt that major cities should have newspapers and I should thus support the city paper.

And now I’m ending my subscription.

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Consumer Ephemera: SmartWool Men’s NTS Light 195 Zip T

23:29 14 Apr 2013. Updated: 00:31 15 Apr 2013

As I’ve written previously, I tend to get frustrated when companies stop making products I like. On the other hand, presumably this turnover of products has a part to play when I find things that I like; perhaps my complaint is more that production should be halted on things that other people like, not things that I like.

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Books, Ebooks, and What to Keep

20:49 03 Jun 2012

In the time since I bought a Kindle, I’ve been extremely happy with it. But the rise of the ebook has brought with it questions about my relationship with books, specifically about book ownership and the notion of a personal library. I’m still trying to cut down on the physical books in my possession—the limited physical space that partly prompted acquiring a Kindle in the first place is still the same—and am finding it difficult to do so.

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Cities: Urban Centers or Transfer Points for Capital?

22:33 15 Mar 2011

Cities have always been centers of capital; I don’t think you can have cities without something (in our history, initially agriculture) to produce surpluses of goods that can (must?) be stored (hoarded? selectively distributed?), and the centralization that such storage encourages has always been a fundamental part of why cities exist.

I love cities. I love them for their concentration of people and culture (the modern form of which, it could be argued, arises out of the former), for the intermingling they encourage and for the aspects of cultural and social choice they provide. I’ve always disliked other aspects, however: the concentration of capital and the power dynamics this creates, and the shaping of cities as feeding/breeding grounds for capitalist/consumerist expenditure/exploitation. I don’t care that these dynamics have thus far been prime drivers for the existence of cities; an optimist (yes, really) about human potential, I believe it’s possible for us to reorganize cities to have the good without the bad. In any case, cities have always had this tension (among others) between capital and people, but they’re still understood largely as spaces for inhabitation—that is, as places for people.

This may be changing.

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Consumer Temptations, February 2011 Edition

11:44 21 Feb 2011

I haven’t been tempted to buy any expensive items for a while now. I’ve been buying smaller stuff, and am hardly immune to the siren call of consumerism, but haven’t been inclined towards any major purchases; that seems to have changed this week.

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Third-Generation Kindle Review

19:47 11 Jan 2011

I bought a Kindle back in November, and have now had time to evaluate it. I’m happy with it and so far have seen few downsides.

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Buying a Kindle

20:35 21 Nov 2010

Despite my love of books as physical artifacts, and my love of simply having physical books around, this evening I pulled the trigger on buying an ebook[*] reader, and I went with the Kindle on the basis of recommendations from a bunch of people I know who have them.

I was motivated largely by space considerations: I already have too many books for my living space. While I could alter that space to accommodate some more books, it’s ultimately unsustainable. In addition, I’ve been feeling more and more that I need to cut down on the physical objects I have (and/or care about), and that a minimalist approach to “stuff” would be healthier for me.

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Inov-8 F-Lite 195s

23:47 26 Oct 2010

I mentioned these last week, and Zappos did eventually come through with them, although not without one annoying blunder. And I still haven’t been able to return the wrongly-received shoes to them, due to a blunder that wasn’t their fault. However, I do have the pair of F-Lite 195 trail running shoes, and like them quite a lot so far.

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Zappos Service

23:55 19 Oct 2010

I’ve ordered shoes a few times from Zappos, and I’ve been quite happy with them. Everything has worked well, and I’ve had no complaints. Today, when I picked up my Zappos package expecting to see my brand new pair of Inov-8 F-Lite 195s (yes, apparently CrossFit trends get to me too), I instead opened up a pair of women’s shoes intended for someone in Seattle.

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Banksy Starts The Simpsons

23:50 15 Oct 2010

You’ve probably seen this already, as it’s gotten a fair amount of publicity, but just in case:

I love the closing shot, and the overall idea is pretty good, but… there’s something unnerving about it. I know it’s The Simpsons, but still, they go so over the top with it that it undermines serious critique. Is that the point? Is it supposed to undermine that critique? Or is it supposed to power it? Should we be happy because it got on television, or sad because it’s unlikely to make any difference whatsoever? Happier because this particular apparent scathing attack on global capitalism was brought to me by the United Mileage Visa Signature card?

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Vis 360 Bike Helmet Light

23:03 14 Oct 2010

I just ordered some new bike lights. I’ve been considering helmet-mounted lights for a while, and randomly stumbled across this product, which looks pretty good to me. I like that they’ve focused on weight, and that they’ve clearly put some thought into the design. I am skeptical about their idea that the amber side-lighting allows for jogging the head from side to side to easily make turn signals to drivers—I just wouldn’t trust drivers to correctly interpret those signals—but apart from that I like their approach.

I love the fact that the batteries for the lights are recharged via Micro USB. That detail is what pushed me from considering to buying.

This isn’t a review; I don’t have them yet and it’s possible I’ll be disappointed, although I suspect otherwise. I’ll review them after using them for a while.

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Consumer Scoring

08:00 30 Jul 2010

I’m not a big fan of shopping, and more or less loathe the idea of it as an entertainment activity. That didn’t stop me from coming up with a scoring system for it, one which could conceivably be useful in restraining spending.

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Consumer Serendipity

16:00 29 Jul 2010

Two weeks ago I wrote about having difficulties finding a wallet to match my somewhat specific requirements. Today, while looking for something else, I found one that matched almost perfectly—it’s like a cheap clone of my earlier wallet.

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Consumer’s Lament

23:13 13 Jul 2010

My wallet—not the metaphor, but the physical object I use to hold money and other things—has become worn and ragged. It’s time to buy a new one.

By “new one”, I mean ideally a new wallet of exactly the same model. This wallet has served me extremely well, and I don’t see why I would want to change its configuration given that it’s worked perfectly for years.

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Consumerist Dialectics

21:29 29 Jun 2010

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Future Shock

23:55 24 Jan 2008. Updated: 02:02 25 Jan 2008

‘Shock’ might be too strong a word, but over the last year or so I’ve really had this “the future has arrived’ feeling. Some trends have been slowly taking shape over years—like the Blade Runner-style huge video billboards. (Of course, all of the technological trends have been taking shape for years, but for some the development has been mostly hidden until they reach a critical point of functionality.)

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New Bike: 2008 Trek 6500

23:59 17 Jan 2008

After using a Trek 4300 since mid-2000, I decided it was time for a new bike. The old one was in need of some serious work, and had been unreliable for quite some time—only a couple of the gears were effectively usable, for example. I use my bike a lot and hope to use it more, so reliability is rather important, and I decided that I would both repair the old one and get a new one.

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Presidential Propaganda

22:42 29 Oct 2007

ThinkProgress notes that Fox’s promotion of “great moments in World Series history” included Bush throwing the first pitch in the 2001 Words Series. Kept to merely that, it might not have been that bad. But they added in a dramatization of firefighters watching Bush throw the first pitch on television, and admiring the strike he threw… So ridiculous. Such pure propaganda, identifying The Leader not merely with the national pastime, but as someone who is admired by right-thinking (or heroic) folks everywhere.

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Arbitration and Regulation

23:58 26 Oct 2007

Americans reading this blog may or may not be aware that many companies they do business with, especially credit card companies, have binding mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts. This means that in disputes, the consumer cannot take legal action through the courts and must instead go through an arbitrator—one selected by the company.

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Jackets of Holding

23:40 27 Sep 2007

I’ve always been a fan of utilitarian clothing, and a lot of the time that just means pockets. Useful, numerous, accessible, capacious, well-designed pockets. So when I first read about ScotteVest‘s line of jackets, I had to try them out.

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The Allure of the iPhone

23:44 24 Sep 2007

When the iPhone came out a few months back, I had no desire to get one. It was massively hyped, but I’m not really an Apple fanboy, and there were too many downsides. The first downside, of course, was the $600 price tag. Apart from that, I couldn’t stand the fact that it’s so locked down, both in terms of the SIM card and the contract with AT&T, and in terms of the software applications. I already don’t like AT&T (who were Cingular back then), and want to get out of my contract so that I can get one that’s better tuned to my fairly sparse use of cellphone minutes—so having to sign up for a more expensive plan for an additional two years doesn’t sound good at all.

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The End of Salmon?

22:33 03 Sep 2007

At dinner with my parents yesterday, I had salmon. This is quite common, I often eat salmon when I’m at their place. But after dinner, my father commented “That might be the last of it.” At first I thought he meant that we’d eaten all of the salmon they’d bought, although I’d thought there was about half left… then he explained that he meant that it might be the last I’d have with them because salmon might no longer be available.

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Clix 2 Field Test

22:29 02 Sep 2007

I took my clix 2 on a couple of long plane journeys recently, and was quite pleased with it. The earphones (Sennheiser CX300s) were quite good at screening out sound—in fact I used them as earplugs without playing any music when the guy across the aisle was audibly singing along with his music player.

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