Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sinking Standards and the Dark Night Before the Dawn

Paul Ash's article in this weekend Lifestyle is pretty good. The last paragraph is brilliant. That said, the cover of the supplement is festooned with Standard Bank graffiti which shrilly shrieks: swipe your credit card 50 times (or whatever) month and win this. Swipe it 40 times and win that, etc etc. Now I dunno about you, but every time you 'swipe' a card, that usually involves a transaction. So you have this incentive to spend to get something for (apparently) nothing. Er....we are facing chronic interest rates, and nosediving markets in general. With fuel and food prices where they are, should we really - responsibly - be swiping away?

Now I am a fan of Standard Bank for a variety of reasons. My buddy works for the company, and I'm a member of the Standard Bank cycling club (and its an excellent club with lekker perks). As such, I'm disappointed in this frankly irresponsible marketing jaunt. Are marketers just plain dumb, or just plain ruthlessly greedy?

Some people are going to shake their heads at this, but amongst health professionals it is common knowledge that drinking the likes of milk (and milk products) doesn't increase the amount of calcium in the bones, by consuming milk products you tend to discharge or flush out calcium. This is assuming the person doesn't have chronic calcium deficiency to start off with (in which case milk would do some good). See how it works in healthy people is that a person's skeleton acts as a calcium bank. So when calcium is needed (and the blood levels are a measure of this), more and more calcium is withdrawn from the skeleton bank. People become calcium deficient not by consuming too little calcium (in fact, most people consume too much via too many milk products), but by drinking highly sugary beverages like soft drinks, and coffee. Coke and coffee have a leeching effect on the skeleton. I think many people are aware that high volumes of daily cola consumption dissolve the teeth over a relatively short period of time. Btw - teeth are made of bones. Coke (and similar high fatty, high sugar foods) have a similar impact on our skeletons.

There is currently a radio ad - by either Parmalat or Clover - where Alex Jay intones the myth that milk = calcium. It is similar to the myth that meat = protein or 'the only way to get enough protein is by eating meat'. The milk and meat industries rely on this deception to prosper, and while we're at it - so do the egg industries. We get egg in everything these days, including an ordinary chocolate. We don't really need more than a single egg a month, and even then, the albumen is what might come in handy. The rest is cholesterol, exactly what a mature adult doesn't need - in a society where the number one cause of death is heart attacks. Heart attacks are caused principally by poor diet and lifestyle choices (lack of exercise, stress, drinking, smoking) and to some extent from genetic predispositions.

My point is, Alex Jay/Clover or Parmesan blah de blah are not doing anyone any favours either. What would be great would be if the milk industry could find a useful way to do something with that white stuff. Maybe make it into a kind of biofuel. I'm guessing they can't. In fact, the meat industry is the greatest cause of global warming on Earth - so give those cows (the dairy aisle at your supermarket) a miss if at all possible.

Now, believe it or not, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking why is van der leek fucking pontificating about clacium and proteins and heart disease? What do these arbitrary health issues have to do with anything? Thanks for the question. Right now, financial troubles are placing large swathes of middle class suburbia under severe stress. It's financial, but it expresses itself as hopelessness and increasingly - desperation. The upshot of all this (shouldn't it be downshot) is a severely stressed population that is susceptible to disease, depression and disorder. Each of those D's is significant, not least of which DISEASE. People under extreme stress start to suffer increasingly from infections, limiting their already increasingly limited ability to dig themselves out of the financial cemetry that is suburbia. Depression and disorder will feed unopposed in this shark tank filling with the bleeding middle class. So there is very good reason that even at this fairly early stage (let's call it The Beginning) we maintain ourselves as far as possible in good condition. Stay fit, eat well, sleep well, maintain discipline.

In Nedbank this morning I joined a queue ending in a solitary human being perched behind a wooden desk. The queue was moving at 0.000001 km/millennium. A woman in front of me started to complain about the service there (ironically, I did the same thing in the same bank several weeks earlier). Curiously, 4 people including me immediately joined in for a group rant, including an old gentlemen who said he had once been a manager at Nedbank, and called current service levels 'deplorable'. It was not so much the subject of our discussion that I found fascinating, but more the increasing readiness of consumers to bitch and moan. I believe this irritable zeitgeist is spreading around the shopping malls of the world like AIDS through Africa.

That's another thing. Have we forgotten about AIDS. It's a disease you get that kills you but it goes under the radar long enough for you to infect a dozen or so people before you start feeling kak, which boosts its human kill rate. From the behaviour of certain people I know, the AIDS bedfellow is a matter of time (if it's not already there). Shudder.

Last night I was in a movie and since I had no date, had a seat open next to me. H13. After a few minutes a guy comes along, asks if the seat is taken and I say 'No.' He sits his ass down, but about an hour into Dark Knight, when the Joker is doing nurse-duty to Two Face, he starts gabbing with his wife on the phone. I can hear what he's saying, and I can hear what she's saying. I'm actually at the cinema to hear what the characters on screen are saying, but instead, while Heath Ledger is saying I can't remember what, the character beside me is saying:
"I'm in a movie."
"A movie. I'm in a movie."
"Oh are you in a movie. When does it finish? And what are you watching..."
The guy goes on and on, and despite a nudge from me, he goes on gabbing for about 2 minutes in all, then signs off and turns to me: "Don't push your arm against me. What's your problem?" He explains his phone is on silent, and he has right to talk to his wife dammit.
"But not in a movie."
The guy goes on to argue with me, when the point is we'd all like to watch the movie, that's why we're here. He tells me if I'm not happy I'm welcome to call security and discuss my problems with them after the movie. I tell him to shutup but the comments keep on coming. So I exit the cinema, call the manager, and have his bum removed from seat H13, a cursed seat that I unfortunately had put money (and a no-show gymnast) on. My point is, you've got a guy sitting in the wrong seat chatting to his wife and asking what everyone else's problem is...

And finally...driving home from work I saw two posters from two different newspapers:
In today's Mail&Guardian: KEBBLE: SHOCKING NEW CLAIMS
Let me put this into some sort of perspective. During my troubled viewing of Dark Knight, I noticed 2 things which I find frankly scares the bejesus out of me.
1) Just before Dark Knight was a preview of the movie HANSIE. A lot of people - when this came on - were chuckling in the packed cinema, and I daresay someone jibed: the devil made me do it. Thing is, if you watch that preview, it has a lot of gravitas in it. It's not meant to make you chuckle. There ought to be a lot of pain linked to the Hansie ethos. The movie is I think a catharsis for the family, who knows, perhaps the rest of us. In any event, it suffices to say that laughing during the preview presents an astonishing lack of manners from what appears to be the average South African
2) In The Dark Knight many of the Jokers appearances were associated with similar giggling. To clarify - the Joker presents a very disturbing series of escalating scenarios. The Joker is funny peculiar, but everyone knows he isn't really funny. I found the audiences levity (and my seat-neighbors arrogance) galling.
God help us (if there is one), because the night time of this world is approaching...we can allfeel it...this growing sense of gloom...and it really is growing darker. Except, you know there is no Batman, no Commissioner Gordon out there to save us. There's just Gotham, the dark and us.

Batman impersonator to Batman: What's the difference between you and me?
Batman: I don't wear hockey pads.

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