Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tall poppy syndrome

Who uses it: Australians
What it means: The tendency to belittle or criticize the more successful; the term comes from an episode in Livy's History of Rome, when the tyrant Tarquin Superbus whacked the heads off a row of poppies as a way of advising his son to assert his authority by killing off his city's most prominent citizens.
How you can use it: To explain your own unpopularity.

Tall poppy syndrome is hardly unique to Australia, but it is so prevalent there that they've given it a name and discuss it frequently. Apologists say that it's not excellence they object to, it's taking oneself too seriously or acting stuck-up. Personally, I find arrogance attractive -- in people who have earned the right to be arrogant.

My iPod shuffle is supposed to be random, but it does sometimes seem like an independent intelligence that decides what I ought to be listening to. On this morning's walk, it gave me a whole set -- six songs -- of Van Morrison and ABBA. What the hell...? I only have one ABBA album in my collection (okay, it's a double album), so what did I do to deserve that?

3 comments:

Jim Winter said...

It's not just the iPod that does that. Creative's Nomad MP3 players have the worst randomizer I've ever seen. It played some obscure Deep Purple tune on the way to work one morning. Then played it again three songs later. I toggled past it. Three songs later... The name of the tune, ironically, was "This Time Around."

I mentioned this to my cousin, who's one of those guys whose loaded from cashing in on the software boom early. He said randomizers aren't a priority for Apple or anyone else. "It's not considered essential. If you hear Chumbawumba's 'Tub Thumping' three times in a row, the bottom line at Apple is Apollo 13 still gets home intact. If the firmware goes completely south, the lunar module blows up and the crew dies. Get it?"

Oddly enough, I did.

AnswerGirl said...

That explains this morning's ABBA-fest, but not the set it gave me the other day: Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Passionate Kisses," followed by Chet Baker's "But Not for Me," Bryan Ferry's "The Way You Look Tonight," and the Psychedelic Furs' "All of This and Nothing." The last thing I need is an electronic device commenting on my love life...

ercwttmn said...

this post made me laugh, because i've felt the exact same way.