Where is Happiness? And is too much bad for you?

“Too much is bad for you? Too much is bad for you? Of course too much is bad for you. That’s precisely what too much means. It is precisely that quantity deemed to be excessive.” With these sage words Stephen Fry once admonished his stooge Hugh Laurie in a sketch about the excesses of smoking.

Our society prostrates itself at the altar of excess. We bow before profligate spending, limitless drinking, shouting, unchecked distraction, consumption, eating and other forms of luxury. The age of bread and circuses has arrived, and far from wanting out we demand more. More satellite TV, more big bangs in big “smash” movie “hits”. We are advertised to on this basis: have a bigger memory, have a faster computer, a more powerful car, a more advanced electric razor. Have shinier hair, have bigger boobs, go to university more, earn more money… We also tune out more, get drunk more, get fat more, get admitted to hospital for preventable diseases more. Whether its good or bad, we don’t care. We want more. Does all this excess really push us towards happiness and fulfillment? Or will we have to come to the sad realisation in the end that the only two things that really satisfy us are opening a new CD from its plastic wrapper and watching other people fail?

I can’t really carry out an analysis about all this as wittily and poignantly as Armando Iannucci manages in his brilliant satirical series The Armando Iannucci Shows. So I’ll leave you to ponder the message for yourselves. The last thing you want is more explanation, I’m sure.

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How Opinion Polls Influence Your Opinion, Not Measure It

How would you go about showing that the public’s will is in line with your policy? Watch the following excerpt from Yes, Minister and find out.

Why We Are Not Happy

Armando Iannucci presents an analysis of the reasons for why modern humans are unable to find fulfilment in their lives. Compulsive viewing.

Woody Allen and Religion

Woody Allen inherited a characteristic blend of one-line quippery and physical comedy genius from the Marx brothers and went on to blend it with his own philosophical musings. The result is a career spanning five decades in which Allen has delivered everything from the farcical and absurd to the downright profound. His personal wrestling match with some of life’s greatest questions, particularly God’s existence, has manifested itself in several of his films. The small selection below is intended to reflect this. Please enjoy both his arguments and his incomparably sharp wit.

Interview with Billy Graham:

Best Flash Animation 2006

Noam Chomsky Interview With Andrew Marr (BBC)

BlueRat presents the now infamous interview between Chomsky and Andrew Marr of the BBC, in which Chomsky explains to the disbelieving journalist how the media serve power interests. Notably, Marr offers the Watergate example of how the media are independent. Chomsky disagrees. Why hasn’t Marr heard of CoIntelPro then? This interview dates back to the late 1990s and was originally broadcast on The Big Idea in Britain. (approx 30 mins)

Have You Ever Been This Drunk?