Wednesday, March 26, 2008

is your stuff "shot from guns" ?

How much stuff have you got? That's the question being asked by a new Australian television series titled simply Stuff.

Its creator Wendy Harmer says in the show's outline:

[quote]This series looks at the human life-long love affair with material objects. It is a deeply personal and psychological portrait of our connection with our own “stuff”.

Stuff examines – from the cradle to the grave – the abiding passion all of us have for stuff – the stuff we buy, the stuff we treasure, the stuff we desire and the stuff that’s most important to us.

“In making this series I wanted to present a view about consumption that was beyond basic academic theory. I wanted to present a human view of consumption.

I found myself increasingly dissatisfied with the many books, newspaper columns and documentaries that finger-wag about the way we consume. We consume, they say, because we’re “greedy”, “unthinking”, to “show off” to “have power over others.”

We are told that consuming is a habit we have to quickly unlearn, as if, somehow, we had only recently learned it.

In fact, we humans have been consuming forever. The desire to acquire goods is as much a part of our lives as is the desire to work.

In researching this topic, I was much inspired by a wonderful book: “The World of Goods – towards an anthropology of consumption” written by Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood ( Basic Books New York, 1979).

In this book, the authors make the point that consumption cannot be discussed without looking at our social system. In fact, we humans consume for many different reasons - to keep our selves warm and fed, certainly, but we also consume books, poetry and beautiful objects that inspire; we use goods to celebrate; as gifts; to honour our spiritual life; to express our identity and encode memory.

Therefore stuff is both the hardware and software of human existence.

I am very proud to have made a documentary about consumption that does not contain the usual footage of factory smokestacks, landfill tips and bulging supermarket trolleys.

Instead, it features many happy human faces and all their wonderful stuff! It’s a study of a love affair as much as anything else.

The message of this programme is to be mindful when you consume and above all, love your stuff. It is as unique as you are. Hopefully, this series will have people thinking about over-consumption, but in a gentle and humorous way.[unquote]

The only problem, perhaps, is that Wendy is not a neutral observer - she is a self-confessed "chucker" who is visibly restraining herself from telling the interviewees they should just throw out all that junk.

This series is for those who get the horrors whenever they watch Collectors on Friday night!


I've been listening to some old radio serials recently and have been intrigued by one of the sponsors, a breakfast cereal that is "shot from guns."

I didn't think I would get very far asking about it at my local supermarket, but it took me quite a while to bring up a straightforward explanation of what this meant (even with help from Mr Google).

The best explanation was from a website where they were discussing breakfast cereals (!) and somebody spelled it out as follows:

"The 'shot from guns' slogan refers to the normal method of making puffed wheat kernels: a metal cylinder is rapidly injected with hot compressed air, causing the wheat kernels to expand, and then opened to release the puffed kernels. A similar process is performed with other grains. When the cylinder is opened, it creates a loud noise; the cylinders are generally referred to as guns, since this works very much like a shotgun shell and the process is most efficient when performed with long and slender tubes that resemble large rifle barrels."
So now we know.


New tablets mean a new leaflet about side-effects and all that. All about biguanides and metformin hydrochloride.

The paragraph about low blood glucose is a bit concerning. If not treated promptly, the leaflet warns, this can lead to
loss of co-ordination
slurred speech
fits or loss of consciousness.

They've certainly got my number -- most days I suffer from the first three anyway!

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