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Grand expenditure

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My second favorite television program at the moment is one of UK origin called Grand Designs. 
(top of my list is the archaeological Time Team)

Each Grand Design program follows the often frustrating progress of someone designing, building or renovating a house in a unique, innovative and grand style.

I am able to some small degree understand the enormity of the task confronting people embarking on projects of such complexity.

Mr and Mrs GOF in 1983, double-handedly built their own home.
Not grand in design. 
An $8000 budget effectively prohibited delusions of grandeur.
(As did the experience of hand digging by crowbar and spade all trenches for the concrete footings.), 
Nor was it grand in the execution of the build. 
It remains unfinished 26 years later.
Nevertheless it is a warm, cosy cottage which provides a barrier to the weather, and most of the tree snakes who would seek to share our comfort. It is filled with memorabilia and images reminding us of the achievements and challenges of our quarter century here.

Grand Designs features the top end of house architecture, often with a price tag approaching $1 million.
The way architecture has changed over the centuries reflecting different civilisations is a fascinating subject. Great architecture is like fine art.  It elevates the human spirit.  It dares to be different.
It reaches for the sublime, and occasionally achieves it.

I have admiration for those who seek to excel in all fields of human endeavour.  Respect for those who dream to take mankind on a new and different path.

The program is also enticing to me with its portrayal of human relationships under pressure.  Financial or personal. 
House building rarely proceeds completely according to plan.

As much as I love this program, it often leaves me with a feeling of ambivalence.
Various examples below from several episodes cause me to invoke thoughts and questions for ethical consideration.

1. A nuclear family of 4 builds a $3 million Georgian-replica mansion with an additional triple carport and 4 guest rooms above.

2. A single man does not bat an eyelid when his quoted $20,000 renovation of a single bedroom apartment blows out to $100,000.

3. $15,000 is spent on wallpapering the master bedroom.

4. A walk-in wardrobe large enough to house an entire family of  Rwandan refugees is built to accommodate the clothes for 2 people.

5. $18,000 for a custom designed shower stall.

6. $15,000 for a stereo sound system. (television and video system additional).

Does anyone else find questionable issues of morality here?

I rarely view ethical matters as either distinctly black or white. 
That is the reserve of fanatics. My world is a myriad shades of grey.  This dilemma for me adds another grey hue.

Does this level of personal indulgence constitute an obscenity when so many in the world, through no fault of their own, have neither food nor shelter?

Then again, perhaps ordinary people who witnessed construction of the pyramids, Buckingham palace, Windsor castle, and Hearst castle also asked similar questions at the time.

Has the jury of time handed down its decision yet in the matter of
The People vs Personal Edifices?

Note;  All figures are approximate, in Australian dollars.
           At the time of writing one $A = 70 US cents.

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GOF’s new contractual arrangements

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I have, for the past few weeks been in negotiation with the creator of The Bucket, concerning its future.
We reached the following conclusions;

1. He is a deeply troubled soul, with such an array of personality disorders that he probably should be committed forthwith to an Institution for the Terminally Bewildered.

2. The Israelis and Palestinians have been very naughty boys indeed during my absence, and failed to adopt my guaranteed peace initiative. (here)

3. All of my future literary contributions to The Bucket shall be limited to serious subject matter only, in deference to the troubled state of the world.
It is not an appropriate time for levity, trivia, or the inconsequential.

So,

Whats with all the grunting, girls?

GOF has always enjoyed watching elite sportsmen and women on television.   The four Grand Slam tennis events of the world are on my viewing list.  Well they were.  I am now discouraged.  Poor GOF.
Womens tennis used to be a favorite of mine, partly because I enjoy watching beautiful women in short skirts (for which I may, in 2020, seek counselling), but mostly because they play extended rallies where they are able to exhibit a broader range of skills than the men who just blast off a series of aces at 200+ kilometres per hour.

So why has it become necessary in the last 10 years for some women players, especially from the ex Soviet bloc countries, to accompany every single stroke with ear shattering squeals, sneezes, grunts or facsimiles of orgasmic satisfaction?
Champions of eras past, Hingis, Graf, Navratilova, King, Court, and Goolagong conducted themselves with efficient and dignified silence.  
Women golfers, soccer players, baseball and basketball players don't do it.  Why has it seemingly becoming a prerequisite for highly ranked female tennis players?

Any possibility it has something to do with bad sportsman(women)ship and distracting the opposing player?

No, of course not.  Silly me. There's probably a perfectly plausible sporting biometric explanation.   One which has no concern for the principle that to honorably play the game is more important than to dishonorably win it.
 
And thank you to whoever invented the television "mute" button.

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Lambs to the slaughter

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Reality television seems here to stay.  When "Survivor" first appeared I found it an irresistable opportunity to observe and study human inter-relationships under physical and psychological stress.
After series 6 it all got a little repetitive….the same behaviour with different faces and in different places.  A lot like real life I guess.

The two young-talent discovery programs, Australian (and American) Idol, and So you think you can dance, for me have more inherent shortcomings;

1. The requirement for public voting makes them a popularity contest and not a true talent quest.
2. Each episode contains too much repetition of previously screened material that wastes what little time I have left on the planet.
3. Dance judge, Mary Murphy has no place in my serene world.

Recently in Australia, "Idol" sorted through the thousands of applicants.  Among the very many who obviously had little or no singing talent, were a minority who were there for comedic purposes, or just to get their faces on television.
There were however, a very great many who, somewhere in life have been given the mistaken information that they had singing talent. Performers with no grasp of melody, pitch, tempo or presentation. They publicly humiliated and embarrassed themselves, and left the audition rejected, dejected, distraught and often in tears.  I felt sad for them because their suffering was probably avoidable.

How many of them are victims of modern trendy parents who have some moral objection to critically evaluating their children in any way,  or an education system which fails to examine or provide comparative grading of childrens performances, for fear of damaging self esteem.

When I was eleven years old I sang a Christmas carol solo in church. Also on the same bill of worship, a friend sang another carol.  On the way home, I sought from my parents some confirmation that my performance, particularly compared to my friends,  was one of the finest vocal renditions ever witnessed in the whole history of Methodism.   They quietly suggested that my enquiry was perhaps a tad immodest, and that it was also possibly a line of discussion better left alone. For ever.  But, they hastened to ask, " would you like to learn piano instead of singing?".  My parents grounded me in reality.

Self esteem is not a birthright to be cosseted from damage.  It is a process built through the acquisition of life skills and achievement.
It is a realisation that we have developed to a satisfactory level our own unique individual talents.  Self esteem necessarily needs to be kept in check occasionally by being dented, bruised, and modified to avoid a society consisting of spoiled brats full of the self indulgent worship of their own "wonderfulness".  There will be many pursuits for which we have absolutely no interest or aptitude.  Lets be honest with our children.  Tell them.  Creative criticism may inspire improvement.  At the very least it will allow them to learn what is real, and give them the necessary resilience to live life accepting their limitations, and not make themselves unnecessarily vulnerable to a critical world.

You may choose to tell them they sing like angels, but if they do not, honest people, and Australian Idol judges will tell them the truth.  

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