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Offbeat 12 September 2014

Forget Ebola, the awful things in the Middle East and your future as a roofing contractor. In order for humanity to survive, you need to be inspired by toys.

Here’s what’s happening as I write this.
Ebola is burning a trail through West Africa. If you contract the disease and it gets to the late stages, you turn into a sack of blood and pop in a gory way, that makes the fictional zombie apocalypse look positively tasteful by comparison. The curves on infection and death rates are so steep, they look like the side of a building. The scientists and medics are being very restrained and cautious. If you know anything about media semiotics, you will understand that they are scared rigid by the whole thing.
In other news, the United States has corralled a bunch of nations to go to war with a group of Islamic fundamentalists who are so savage and divorced from humanity that they have managed to engender some form of unity of purpose among the nations of the Middle East, something nobody in their wildest dreams thought was possible. Call it a reverse peace plan.
The media semiotics on climate change indicate that we have gone past the point of no return, and now live in the realm of no hope. One report points out that clouds are in question now in some parts of the world. It notes that without clouds to shelter us from the sun, we run the risk of being fried by the sun in a rather terminal way. My guess is that ‘roofing contractor’ is a career for the future.
Ignore all that though. The semiotics of the last few days tell us that the really, really important thing is that Apple has come up with a watch and a couple of smartphones.
The watch is a Dick Tracy style thing. You can hold it up to your eye and look at photos. If you stick out your elbow and hold it up to your ear, you can listen to tunes. If you hold it up to your mouth, you talk like a secret agent. It also tells the time and gives you weather reports, same as all the other digital watches.
The phones are new iPhones. Someone witty has pointed out that they have all the new features you could want, unless you have one of the Google Nexus phones, in which case they have all the features that have been around for a couple of years.
You, dear reader, need to be excited by all this, right now. You need to be sweaty with anticipation, talk hysterically about how you can’t wait for it, and try to do some pre-orders, preferrably a watch and both the phones, one big and one small. One set for every member of the family.
The global economy appears, in a large part, to hinge on your excitement.

If you follow economic news, particularly markets, you will come to understand that these devices will have a major impact on US bourses, if they succeed in making you all hot and sweaty.
This in turn will create a holiday mood, and have an impact on other stock markets. The sense of well-being, happiness and the certainty that Father Christmas, and the new toys, will arrive, will prompt investors to pour money into stock markets, improving the fortunes of companies, creating new requirements for productivity, creating jobs and putting food on the tables of Asian sweatshop workers.
If you don’t get excited and buy, buy, buy, a sweatshop worker runs the risk of starvation. Also note that investors won’t get rich. They will get depressed, stop investing, and a whole lot more poor people will starve.
This may seem totally absurd and flippant, but the chain of reasoning is very, very real. Forget Ebola, the awful things in the Middle East and your future as a roofing contractor. In order for humanity to survive, you need to be psychotically engrossed in toys.
My mind has a crack down the middle as I write this. On the one hand the causality of short term equity investing has a sense of unreality that would perplex the Dadaists and Salvador Dali. On the other hand, I have to accept the reality of the causality.
Someone seems to have put paranoid delusionals in charge of the office evacuation plan. Dutch tulips, anyone?
The coffee that I am swigging right now, rapidly, stronger and more than I should, is not helping me at all.
Just saying, y’know. My sense of reality will be resumed as soon as I can put this all in the back of my head and continue sweating the small things, like Ebola and all that other stuff.

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