November 2007

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Things I learned in the last 24 hours:

  • It's Diwali
  • Portal is a really cool game.
  • The weather in Sydney is likely to continue to suck for another week
  • The Thursday crossword in the Sydney Morning Herald is probably the easiest of the week
  • When a girl says "It'll be really funny and don't worry, I've got nail polish remover" she's lying about at least one thing.

I ran out of shampoo last week. No big deal, I thought, I'll just run down to the supermarket and grab another bottle. Unfortunately, the trickster gods of consumerism had something else in mind.

There must have been fifty different varieties on display, arrayed across both sides of the aisle. And like most cosmetics, they were all marketed to those people convinced there is something desperately wrong with them that can only be solved through the application of some tincture of stone-fruit pulp, rare herbs and technobabble.

I'm happy to say that my hair doesn't feature amongst my physical insecurities. The only problem that springs to mind is that I think it's about time I got it cut, and my girlfriend doesn't.

My hair is not dry, damaged, chemically treated or coloured. Thanks to my mother's DNA it doesn't seem in any danger of falling out. I do not habitually flick my head around like those poor semi-tourettes-sufferers in the commercials. I am not looking to add vitality, body, shine or bounce. In an ideal world, after I washed my hair, it would simply be cleaner.

Now where's my shampoo?

I can only imagine that of all the dozens of brands and varieties of shampoo my local supermarket orders, there's one that is packaged in a plain, non-pastel-coloured bottle and labeled only "Shampoo. For normal hair."

And whenever they get a shipment in, it sells out in five minutes.

Looking something up today on Wikipedia, I was finally drawn in by their banner seeking donations. I use the service daily, and while I really have no idea how to work out what value I derive from its existence, it has to be worth digging into my pocket for.

Post-banner, the donation page offers me the following important directions:

If you and 99 other people donate .. $200 – We can make Wikipedia available in developing countries through DVDs, books and pamphlets. $100 – We can pay for two Wikipedia Academy events in Africa. $60 – We can send three students to our annual Wikimania conference. $40 – We can deliver 100 million pageviews of free information!

This threw me for a loop. If I send in a donation, what portion of my money will go to maintaining and improving Wikipedia itself? What portion will go to sending students (selected how?) to navel-gazing wiki-conferences? How much will go to educational programs of unknown value in unnamed African countries? I already give money to charities that provide aid in Africa, what's the overlap? The FAQ mentions I can restrict my donation to a specific purpose, but recommends against it and provides no explicit mechanism for doing so.

There's something to be said for staying on message.