With the untimely death of Steve Jobs, the next few weeks will surely be overblown with millions of fairly similar articles touting various combinations of “brave”, “visionary” and “genius”. Should anything interesting be actually crafted on the subject, I will cover it in the next digest. Emil


Some Nuts

Some Nuts

How dull are pistachio nuts? A pub snack, healthier then crisps but oodles less sexy, even their colour is boring. To make something cool out of pistachios one needs a hell of an imagination. Furthermore, branding pistachios is quite a pain- try finding unique selling points when all products look the same. Well, guess what? As of September 2011 even I, someone who lives thousands of miles away from the States and doesn’t eat pistachios unless blind drunk, knows that somewhere behind the horizon lies a beautifully absurd place where mobsters, dominatrices and Winklevoss twins share the coolest snack in the world- Wonderful Pistachios.

PETA Raving Mad

I love animals and detest people who are cruel to them. In spite of my Eastern European background I do not like fur. – Wearing several families of hairy creatures just feels a little odd. However, I do not impose my opinion and generally think that people should do whatever makes them happy as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. If they want to petition against animal testing – Godspeed; if they like to gather in groups and chant “shame on Armani” on Sloane Street – by all means. In time we have gotten used to PETA’s initiatives, we call them “extravagant”. There are less flattering euphemisms but we wouldn’t want to offend anyone. PETA’s last two projects, however, blur the line between exhibitionism and schizophrenia. At first, the activists announced a triple-X site that would present a mixture of pornographic content and PETA’s campaigns. And just 10 days later the group launched a campaign implying that people who eat fish deserve to be gnawed by sharks. If the message wasn’t mental enough, the ads were also consciously run in an area intimately familiar with the horrors of shark attacks.

Tobacco Branding Banned in Australia

Smoking is unhealthy. Second-hand smoking is unhealthy and unfair- you don’t enjoy whatever there is to enjoy from smoking but suffer regardless. Smoking at public venues should really be restricted to closed well-conditioned rooms – if you feel like killing yourself – go ahead. Graphic anti-smoking ads on cigarettes are disturbing, wrong and aimed at teenagers who will get nightmares and shouldn’t really be able to buy the product anyway. Who would have thought that the healthy living lobby could be stronger than that of Big Tobacco? The Australian government seems determined to ban tobacco branding on an industrial scale. Not to mention the billion dollar losses, the initiative raises a few uneasy questions: what about the sugar-rich Australian Shiraz – a product as dangerous as it is pleasant? What about the high-fat, high-cholesterol Australian Cheddar, available to mature gourmets and innocent children alike? Thinking of the children, in a drastic contrast, after much public scrutiny, a Russian cigarette maker dropped a line targeted specifically at teenagers.

Toyota in Court for Stalking

Toyota is an awfully friendly brand, whose image promotes “family”, “moral values” and “eco-friendliness”. How on earth can the same people who gave us the Prius get sued for “intentional infliction of emotional distress; unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practices; and negligent misrepresentation, among other things?” It’s much easier than you think actually. In a bid to attract young consumers who, allegedly, like to punk each other, the company launched a campaign that very much resembled Michael Douglas’ ordeal in “The Game”. Now, imagine waking up in David Fincher’s movie – what could possibly go wrong..?


Building Galt's Gulch


Tim Cook had a tough day. He had to present a new product to a cult of followers that have been eagerly waiting for a year and a half. His predecessor, cherished by many around the world as a demigod, was gravely ill with no chance of recovery. Tim Cook knew that the new product was not nearly as impressive as the last one but was anticipated around the world with a capricious impatience bordering on hysteria.

Considering the cards, the new Apple team did a sterling job. The new iPhone will be good enough for ardent supporters, those previously oblivious to the comfort of the most popular smartphone at all and those who have the older 3G and 3GS variants. The only customer segment left bitterly disappointed are those, like myself, who have been playing with iPhone 4 for a year and a half, are bored with it and want a new toy. But we can wait.

Building Galt’s Gulch

Inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, PayPal founder Peter Thiel is building a colony in the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of San Francisco. Тhe novel depicts an alternate reality where a dysfunctional, incompetent, ultra-socialist regime governs the United States, people are taught that the humility is the highest virtue and that the strong, smart and able must work harder to support the incapable. The dissidents lose their businesses to nationalisation and are forced to quietly assimilate into the crowds. In a country fast spiralling into apocalypse, an apologist of the morality of rational self-interest, an individualist and a gifted man named John Galt starts a private colony for those he considers worthy. Hidden from the all-seeing eye of the masses, the movers and thinkers of the world who refuse to work to support the ungrateful and intellectually decrepit mob, retreat leaving the crumbling country to its fate.

John Galt was an ascetic ingenious engineer, philosopher, businessman and politician, who literally built the new world with his own bare hands. Peter Thiel is an ambitious and successful entrepreneur who plays John Galt. Nevertheless, the project that started three years ago is an interesting experiment worth following.


Sometimes, There's a Man

Sometimes, There’s a Man

Have you seen The Big Lebowski, the 1998 dark comedy with Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and John Goodman? If not, you have missed out. A brilliant satire, a cult of its generation, the movie is charmingly absurd, sharp, creative and hilarious. Many good motion pictures have ardent fans. Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is, deservedly, a prime example. Thankfully, Tarantino’s admirers never started a religion – things could have gotten messy. Dudeism, on the other hand, combines Chinese Taoism and the philosophy of Epicurus with the value system of “The Dude” – Jeff Bridges‘ hippy baby boomer protagonist.

Loot or be Bullied

For those who still argue the origins of the London riots, UNICEF has published a study on child well-being in the UK, Spain and Sweden. Apparently, the once legendary cool and self-sufficient people of Albion have somewhat degraded over the last few decades. Not only are children in the UK obsessed with consumerism, helpless parents accept it as normal and keep buying kids high status objects to protect them from bullying. So, next time there is a crowd of teenagers looting an Apple store, don’t frown- the kids may just be seeking acceptance.

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