John Wilcock column header


The Column of Lasting Insignificance: January 12, 2008

WITH THE HOLIDAYS OVER hopefully we’ll see an end to the ads for all those watches. The hedge-fund crowd doubtless buys them by the bagful to give their pals, which makes me think, sigh, what a pity they don’t hand them out downtown (any downtown) to the homeless who might at least trade them for a bottle of wine.

Macy’s bought several $50-thousand dollar pages to promote Raymond Weill (“diamond markers on a mother of pearl dial for her, $850”), Longines’ La Grande Classique, $2975, Vacheron Vonstantin (“dedicatd to perfection”), ESQSwiss (“technical watches for him”), Rado, Fendi, Bulgari etc. Ulysse Nardin’s face has blinds in the background; Panerai (laboratorio di idée) offers a side view of “three string barrels.” Victorinox’ Swiss Army watch is $1295.

The big-ticket watches had faces circled by a neo-baroque style rim known as a bezel, inset with diamonds such as Weill’s Parsifal, $2995)

Dior has all that plus “three rows of black sapphire crystal,” $5495.

At least Movado (the art of design) has the grace to sponsor “artists of exceptional” talent, five of whom (dancers, designers) are pictured in their New Yorker ad.

But what’s with all these extra dials? Dials, dials, dials. Black faces, no figures, “water-reconstructed’ are all things you might understand, but who wants to know when the sun sets or the moisture level of his underwear?

SCIENTISTS REPORT, hardly surprisingly, that having sex with friends tends to complicate friendships, says Harper’s magazine, and 80% of participants in “ex-gay” Christian therapy reported that the treatment had made them gayer than before.

ILLICIT LUNCHTIME ASSIGNATIONS are a big thing in New York these days according to a Page Six report, “The New Lunch Hour Sex” in the saucy New York Post. Married men and women find their short-term partners through such websites as, a dating site for EMRs (extra-marital relationships) whose founder, Darren Morgenstern, claims it has 76,494 members in the New York area. Most of these well-heeled cheaters think little of paying the $695 room charge at such hotels as the Mandarin where they stay only two hours. ”High-income earners tend to fare better,” says Darren, “because they can make an investment in time and money to nurture a relationship.” Excuses for this illicit conduct vary, with men complaining their wives have no drive and women claiming their husbands are boring in bed.

“(One) reality that needs to be addressed is what one might call the logos or essential structure of capitalism as a system of values… the Chinese entrepreneurs who fill our pet food, toothpaste, animal feed, and even our Viagra with toxic filler. For the entrepreneur, such filler is poison only if someone dies, otherwise it’s just a profit margin. The game is to take profit as close to the poison line as possible. We see very much the same at work in industrial agriculture. Just how much herbicide and pesticide can we put down before it starts killing something more than bugs and pigweed? Here we see the creed of ‘cost benefit analysis,’ presided over with loving kindness by accountants and legions of liability lawyers.”
Curtis White in Harper’s

THE NEW FAD in the vineyards is the practice of biodynamic (BD) agriculture, its origin dating back to the Austrian occult philosopher Rudolph Steiner’s quest to reintroduce “spiritual” elements into farming. But, according to the Skeptical Inquirer, bio-dynamics — which involves taking into account cycles of the moon and positions of the zodiac — is “not unlike a quasi-religious movement” and is a waste of time, money, and effort. Steiner’s agricultural lectures, the mag claims ”are marked by clear falsehoods, digressions, and odd fantasies” adding up to a kind of voodoo whose practices have been debunked many times. ”Bio-dynamics theory is barely comprehensible relying on a variety of strange, clearly false, and anti-scientific claims.”

THE WILCOCK WEB: The micro-needle technology that Hewlett-Packard uses in its inkjet printers has been adapted to a one-inch patch containing thousands of needles which can be programmed to deliver medication…. The New Yorker’s cheesy PR-driven supplement, Movies Rock (68 pages of glossy ads), merely demeans the magazine’s literary reputation…. Opening this month to coincide with Liverpool’s turn as European Capital of Culture, the new hotel called A Hard Day’s Night has wallpaper based on the Sgt. Pepper album cover…. “A slash of red on the mouth has a clear relation to genitalia, sex and the menstrual cycle and wearing it is a sign of female power,” declares Poppy King, described by the Times as ‘the lipstick maven’…..In the Hong Kong branch of Madame Tussaud’s, visitors can dress up, dance and pose for pictures in wax versions of Rembrandt paintings or alongside Tiger Woods and the British Royal family….The long-defunct Delorean gull-winged car is about to make a comeback, revived by a former mechanic from the company, Stephen Wynn, who plans to offer them for $57,500….Alaska Airlines followed by American Airlines and Virgin plan to install satellite-linked onboard WiFi in their plane by spring….Fighting a losing battle in an era when copyright is on its way out, the Entertainment Software Association is targeting kindergarten classes in an attempt to deter illegal downloading. The battle against teenagers is presumed already lost…. Next March, American and British contestants will compete in an Abu Dhabi version of The Apprentice with property tycoon Al Fahim acting in the Donald Trump role…. Almost two decades after Andy Warhol’s brother opened a museum dedicated to the artist in the tiny Slovakian mountain town of Medzilaborce, locals have finally come to accept it and a hotel has been built across the street to accommodate the rising number of visitors….. “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing?” — Anatole France (1844-1924)