Wednesday, October 29, 2008

false oppositions.

there is a significant glitch quite apparent in marketing and brand messaging which bothers me and what i, personally, identify as one of the most interesting challenges in the future of marketing: the promotion of ethical ideals. i am not talking about some idealistic anti-materialistic view going towards corporate extinction, but about the fact that social responsibility is increasingly important, accepted and promoted as part of marketing, and it should be profitable and beneficial to move towards more responsible production and consumption.

as we all know, moral consumption and ethical buying are huge trends. whole brands, such as american apparel or edun, rely on their image as more ethical than their rivals. eco-chic, sweatshop-free, organic, fair trade, social resposibility... you name it. (almost) everyone is doing it, and ethically sound seems to have surpassed healthiness as the main added value to a brand. nokia made it up the greenpeace scale for eco-friendly electronics. the paradox, in my view, lies in that once it's been established that corporations realize the importance ethical thinking and action, they cannot succeed by definition because they are corporations. it does not matter what kinds of changes they're willing to make, because everything will be viewed as superficial image polishing just because the changes are made in a profit oriented matrix. it seems that a huge false opposition exists between profit and morally proper action.

the history of opposition is obviously between large corporations (evil) and ngo's (good); between creating profit no matter what and holding up ethical values and justice without financial gain. since values, morals and ethics became a trend and, increasingly, a basis for running a credible business, the demanding party has been holding the ethical halo on a stick and the business donkey has followed without ever making it underneath the ring of salvation's light. the inquisition is after you with boycotts, riots, vandalism and flyers if you don't suck up to them, but don't you dare think you can ever actually make them happy.

why call it a false opposition? obviously corporations and every company smaller than the few global mammoths are essential for the well-being of people: we need services, commodities and the jobs they provide. sure, we may not need as much material well-being or prices as cheap as we're used to. and sure, the ceos or major stockholders of corporations may not need as much of an increase per annum as they may be used to. if we were willing to pay higher prices and buy slightly less of everything, profit could still fit in the picture and working conditions could be better. the thing is, we're in this together.

the trend is too good to let pass because of skepticism. idealism may be a vanity we cannot afford, either, but where does the need to dismiss every effort a company makes towards becoming more ethical grow from? the insecurities of ngo's as the final holders of Moral Truth? the false premiss that a moral agent needs to be consistent and throughout, a moral archangel in the harean sense, or they won't be considered moral at all -- an argument all too familiar from discussions about vegetarianism as a dietary choice where the credibility of the defender of herbivores is challenged because of leather shoes. it's all or nothing, baby, they seem to think.

such ngo groups as the carrotmob offer an example how the halo at the end of the stick becomes attainable and what is possible from the morals guarding side of the polarity. by concentrating on the positive -- by rewarding a business for ethical conduct with tangible benefits rather than lamenting on whatever monstrous act was hidden behind a corporation's latest effort to appear ethical -- it seems ngo action and business can hit a pleasant chord together.

but isn't there something that could be done by just altering the messages that marketing agencies are producing for their clients? if i am right about the opposition being only an apparition, there must be means to surpass it creatively and conceptually. it cannot be that only ngo guided or controlled activities should be and are truly ethics promoting and significant while cooperation with them may be essential -- if only for information. if we really want to attain a better world, why are we so damn hesitant to reward movement towards it? would somebody think this over with me?

compaq: computers often make people quite angry.

in the midst of desperate efforts to create successful slogans and milking then endlessly until everyone is dead tired or creating insight from illogical allusions which are (supposedly) absurd, these ads are a breath of fresh air straight from the 80's. sometimes being plain silly and ridiculing one's own brand works wonders.

the absurd comparison.

the commercial not worth watching.

just forget what i said previously.

remember the brand? you sure?

Friday, October 24, 2008

store yer veggies.

i presume not being alone in searching for my lost cloves in the fridge. i don't like storing garlic on a tabletop, but sprouts galore and the notorious vanishing act of drying garlic cloves keep me wondering what i'm doing wrong. am i just not eating enough of the stinker?

well, ahoy, here comes bruno super deluxe and their veggie storage bags. they're made of cotton canvas which keeps garlic and mushrooms fresh with necessary airflow and protects from light. and they've got cutesy prints, they're reusable and washable. how very cool.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

5 firstevers of this fall.

1. peeling crayfish at a traditional fall party. i did not quite succeed; the vegetarian in me had a hard time dealing with an individual with a malformed limb and i could not continue, but i did try. i ate the poor btard, though.

2. playing with a playstation. (i know! but yes, it is possible i never did it before...) later on i tried wii fit, and realized i have a natural talent for ski jumping. if you want to have a go, visit the miltton and their hillstreet 8 entertainment studio on a saturday.

3. adjusting a flash code to my likings. (i'm one of those fake nerds who are nerdy mostly in the socially awkward sense.)

4. eating produce i grew myself, such as onions and beets. i do not have a green thumb, nor am i really all that into gardening. but i did enjoy the sporadic sticking of fingers in the dirt and pulling of weeds. and the stuff tasted pretty good.

5. voting strategically. since people tend to harden their political views in the company of like-minded people, i believe it is extremely important to retain variety in every decision-making body. i voted extreme, just to help idealists create a certain dissonance in the helsinki city council. that should keep them in check...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


anu wrote about how the chilly fall weather creates a craving for hot, steamy soups and shared a couple of recipes. i promised i'd add some of my own and here's the noodle, mushroom and ginger soup. a great substitute with a twist for chicken noodle soup when you're feeling a little under the weather.

noodle, mushroom and ginger soup.

15g dried chinese mushrooms (or 125g fresh forest mushrooms)
1l vegetable stock
125g egg noodles
2 tsp sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves
2,5 cm ginger
1/2 tsp (mushroom) ketchup
1 tsp light soy sauce
125g beansprouts
fresh coriander to garnish

1. soak the mushrooms in 3dl of veggie stock for 30min. reserve the stock. remove stalks and discard. slice the mushroom hats.
2. cook the noodles for 2-3mins, drain, rinse and drain. set aside.
3. heat the oil in a wok, add garlic and ginger, then mushrooms. stir for 2 mins on high heat.
4. add the combined stock and bring to the boil. add ketchup and soy sauce. stir in beansprouts and cook until tender.
5. divide the noodles into serving bowls (4) and pour the soup over the noodles. add coriader and enjoy.

a list of funky photoshop actions.

this list of photoshop actions seems pretty cool for anyone like me who likes to play around with their collection of snapshots. i especially like the lomo effects, the long term lomophile that i am.

the semco system.

i went to a brekkie meeting a while back to listen to a marketing agency manager and a consultant talk about new forms of leadership. as usual, the bullshit factor was relatively high, but there were interesting ideas thrown in the air. obviously, i was not their target audience and much of the information provided was tangential.

the glorification of original thinkers in economics and business seems to have shifted in focus to journalists, such as malcolm gladwell of new yorker and chris anderson of wired, and leaders of smaller companies outside the us instead of academics and global company ceo's. at the lecture, i was introduced to the phenomenon around ricardo semler, the ceo (chief enzyme officer) of semco sa in brazil. his building idea is that the structure of a company or corporation should and can be challenged in extreme ways while maintaining a profitable business but with increased employee contentment. he questions the plausibility of hierarchy, compulsory meetings, working hours, the corporate ladder, hiring policies and so on, and has applied his insight into his own company with the result of less than 2% employee turnover and around 30% growth per annum.

while he insists there is no semco system when it comes to the organization of his own company as an application to be followed elsewhere, i think the system is apparent: follow instinct and never stop questioning the obvious.

his lecture "leading by omission" can be seen here.

r.i.p. dave.

i'm not sure how the news escaped me. one of my favorite authors, david foster wallace, committed suicide on my bday, september 12. he was 46.

wallace was one of the characters whose writing fed my perpetual love of language and word-play. he studied philosophy and english, the same double major as yours truly, and seemed to enjoy disrupting linear thinking just for the sake of proving an argument. postmodern and analytical never came so neatly packed.

fully finishing his second novel, infinite jest, has been (and probably will be) an unattainable and continuous goal in my life, and despite being only a partial read the book remains one of my favorites - a ridiculous achievement for a book and something of an embarrassment for anyone claiming to read books, not cliff's notes, but oddly comprehensible to those who have actually picked up the book with its bible thin 900 pages of 10px font and 30 or so pages of footnotes, endless acronyms and temporal displacement. it is a work of fiction which simultaneously provides a continual headache and intense pleasure.

there aren't many authors i could say i'd mourn. dave would be one of them.

here's a relatively short and a pretty damn funny reading from harper's 150th anniversary.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


when it comes to dj'ing i'm old school. i drag the crate with the vinyls, suffer the bruises on my shoulders and deal well with a basic mixer and two decks. i'm no purist, though, and i do play cds (and have even tried ipod dj'ing way back in 2004, no click wheel...) and get a kick out of great cd players and funky mixers with effects.

i feel somewhat hesitant about the new generation of laptop djs. my feelings are not based on the format of the music, but the use of software for mixing. selecting a great playlist is not always easy, but i still think some essential part is missing from a set where the computer does the hardest job.

last night at beatroot i was surprised to see a dj with a laptop with swirling images, a pretty efficient looking beat counter, a list of what seemed like mp3s and vinyls spinning. i watched him handle the records with telltale ease: the guy obviously knew a lot about spinning vinyl. curious, i walked over to the booth, checked out the laptop and noted that he wasn't using any phono inputs on the mixer (meaning there was no music coming from the vinyls). was the guy pretending to dj? why the lavish performance?

so i took a minute to figure out what he might have been doing and proposed he was mixing mp3s by using some specialty vinyls. and he told me about serato scratch live which "is a DJ solution that comprises of the Serato Scratch LIVE software, Serato Control and an audio interface from Rane" according to the website. instead of vinyl crates, he brings a laptop, two vinyls and a small usb box. the software does not mix anything, and it seems the only point is to enable the dj more variability and a better back. the downside is that with unlimited mp3s there's easily too much to choose from, and one does need to start remembering the names of songs and artists instead of recognizing sleeve art.

such a great invention comes at a pretty steep price, but if you play enough, it may just be worth it. i'm just not sure how having such a system set up at one of my gigs would be interpreted since i already gather quite a lot of speculation about my skills or lack thereof. the laptop girl who really cannot play but fakes it well?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


since lg released it's prada collaboration with a large touch screen i've been wondering how users of iphones etc. deal with winter. touch screens are difficult to handle when wearing gloves. some people were spotted answering their phones with their noses last winter which obviously lacks convenience, to say the least.

freehands offers a solution of a sort. hopefully they'll soon come up with a more, ahem, streamlined version for the girls who do not want to look like lumberjacks.

notes on a beginning of a blog.

to be honest, i'm not new to the game. in fact, i've had a blog for several years. why start another one then, they ask. let me explain.

cardinal mistake #1: thinking no-one would actually read your blog in this universe of infinite bloggers.

cardinal mistake #2: imagining that using a pseudonym that was not restricted to the virtual world would not interfere with anonymity.

cardinal mistake #3: failing to censor oneself in thinking that a public blog is a great outlet for intimate, somewhat private thoughts.

outcome: realizing that you have a public blog of intimate thoughts with compromised anonymity and a steadily increasing number of readers amounting to a couple hundred hits a day with a few dozen regulars.

*all sorts of stuff hitting the fan*

therefore, a few months ago i went private with my older blog. not that i really have anything to hide; my closets are kept neat and swiped. it just started to feel slightly iffy meeting people for the first time and realizing they knew quite a few things about me when all i had was a name and a face. i do accept the blame for my choice of an outlet, but it must have felt weird for them, as well -- as if they'd been snooping into my badly hidden journal. let's just say going private with my other blog and starting anew with this one is to even things out a bit.

*takes a bow*

hey, y'all. i'm a girl with funny, helmet-like hair you'll find dj'ing all around town. my educational background is in philosophy, political theory and english, among others, but my older readers will know i have a keen interest in science, music, fashion, urban culture, design, gadgets and lists of all sorts. my interests will determine the content of this blog.

outrageous outings? i will out stuff i find outrageously cool, impressive, or beautiful. and i'll complain about all sorts of stuff, if i feel like it.

welcome. feel free to comment.