The news that a Brazilian student has sold her virginity for $780,000 has caused outrage online. Fourteen ‘men’ from Brazil, India, Australia and the US competed in the auction, but lost out to a Japanese bidder. Is this the sort of free market profit maximisation investment magazines should applaud or deplore?
It’s not often Blue & Green Tomorrow agrees with The Daily Mail (“a curiously compelling mixture of hating myself and hating others”, describes The Daily Mash), but we share the global anger this auction has caused. Filmmaker Jason Sisely caused a stir in Sydney and Melbourne when he launched the auction with “Virgins Wanted” posters, but there were enough willing applicants for the bidding to go ahead.
The winning ‘lot’, 20-year-old Catarina Migliorini, put it like this, “I saw this as a business. I have the opportunity to travel, to be part of a movie and get a bonus with it”, before adding, “It’s more sane than doing it drunk at a party with a stranger.”
She went on to say, “If you only do it once in your life then you are not a prostitute, just like if you take one amazing photograph it does not automatically make you a photographer.”
A man who was auctioned only raised $3,000 – suggesting that women, on the whole, are a far more sensible gender altogether. One can only think that the man who bid $780,000 is ludicrously rich, probably sociopathic and has a wholly unhealthy attitude towards women. He’s certainly bought bragging rights amongst his equally deplorable friends.
For the record, prostitution is illegal in Japan so we hope the winning bidder will face legal sanction and opprobrium in his own country. Prostitution is legal but unregulated in parts of Australia and Brazil.
But what does this shocking story have to do with us?
It rather makes the point we have been trying to make to those people, who snipe at ethical investment solely on the grounds of return or performance. As we pointed out during National Ethical Investment Week, “We would all make a lot more money – millions do – if we only invested in oil and gas, mining, alcohol, pornography, gambling, tobacco and weapons.“
Pornography is just another business. Prostitution is just another business. The only difference with the sex trade is that it’s bodies that are on sale. The going rate for attractive, female virgins seems to be roughly £500,000.
Of course, there are those who argue that we should all have the freedom to do whatever we choose, as long as it harms no-one else. Migliorini intends to use the money to help the poor. But, this is not a victimless commercial act to make a harmless documentary.
Trying desperately not to sound like The Daily Mail, what message does this send to young women? That sex is nothing more or less than a physical act, and you can sell your body to the highest bidder.
Women trafficked, objectified and abused, huge peer pressure to have sex unprotected and early, countless teenage pregnancies, an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases, and thousands of young lives ruined or ended, as the recent case of Amanda Todd graphically illustrated, might suggest that our overly sexualised culture is doing harm.
Despite its outrage, The Daily Mail really needs to clean up its own act with the soft porn of its own website. Have I Got News For You recently illustrated the newspaper’s chosen set of words for describing 14-year-old girls – “As she dangled her legs into the pool, she leaned back on her arms while displaying her equally trim figure…” . The girl it writes about and publishes large pictures of is 14.
As Father Ted creator Graham Linehan pointed out, typing in “all grown up” reveals a smorgasbord of barely legal flesh on MailOnline. Well done to the nation’s self-styled moral guardians at The Daily Mail.
“I saw this as a business”, is the profit-maximising defence of all unethical products and industries, including the media. To people who subscribe to this philosophy, any business, whatever the harm done to people and planet, is ripe for investment if it maximises personal profit.
Put simply, this is wrong and we should deplore it.
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living
Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.
However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.
They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.
What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??
Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded.
Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.
In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.
Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.
Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.
How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?
Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.
For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.
Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.
Their influence in the UK
The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.
Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.
In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.
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