What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Today’s post is one of my periodic soapbox rants evoked by reading the news, and doesn’t have anything to do with perfume, at least not directly. However, I can rationalize anything, so will point out that in a bad economy many people sink lower on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, rendering luxuries like perfume more or less irrelevant. This is about the US economy, so read on at your own risk.
WARNING: Contains strong political opinions that some may find offensive.
The current budget impasse in the US congress would be a hilarious farce were it not being played out in real life, making it a tragic commentary on the state of the country. Anyone who has a minimally functioning brain should be able to see that the irresponsible policies of the last Bush administration are moving toward their logical conclusion, but the public, the media, and the country’s so-called leaders seem to be largely in denial of this fact, preferring to blame Obama for the disaster course that he inherited and is powerless to change short of exercising comic-book superpowers.

Think about this scenario. A staunch Republican decides to give up his steady, well-paying job at a large corporation to take a low-paying, part-time job with a small company that’s chronically in debt and about to go under. At the same time, he buys two very expensive mansions with no money down. He can borrow for a while to pay the mortgages and feed and clothe his young children, but very quickly runs into financial difficulty when his credit is maxed out. What should he do? Starve his children and default on his mortgages, or do what his well-educated financial advisor suggests - sell his oversized houses and go back to a job that provides a good income so that he can feed and educate his children? I don’t think even the obstructionist Republicans and tea-party radicals in congress would choose the first option in their own lives, even though they advocate it for the country.

For those who aren’t good at figuring out blatantly obvious allegories, the “job” is tax income. Eliminating taxes for large corporations and the extremely wealthy means giving up a steady income from a reliable source that has ample resources to provide it. The successful corporate employer benefits from their employee’s well-compensated work, just as the real-life corporations benefit from a healthy economy and solid infrastructure. The low-paying, part-time “job” with a small, financially shaky company is akin to the government depending on taxation of the poor and middle class to provide all of its needs. The “mansions” are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only are the mortgages sky-high and financed with no money down and borrowed payments, but the structures themselves are money pits, in constant need of maintenance and repairs. These ill-conceived military operations are the biggest place where expenses could be cut, but the military budget is treated as sacred and unalterable. The “children” are those who depend on the pittances doled out by social security and medicare, and all of us who depend on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

The writing is on the wall, folks. As the gap between the haves and the have-nots widens, the US is on track to become a third world country. Without some correction, the military and corporate parasites will at some point kill their host and then everyone will go down together, the poor, the middle class, the soldiers, their commanders, and the filthy-rich CEOs along with them. It will not be a pretty sight, but the consequences of stupid and irresponsible behavior are never pretty.
If you live in the US and agree with this post, please feel free to share it (or some part of it) with your congressional representatives and anyone else who might be interested. If you don’t agree, then it’s theoretically a free country, so you can ignore it and think what you like.

[Sysiphus graphic, which here represents the frustrations inherent in politics, is by Bernard Piccat, 1731]


  1. I'm not following the economic situation in US but I can tell you that here we're pretty much sinking fast without many chances of a remedy any time soon as the party governing for the most of the last 20 years managed to steal and sell everything they could (and that's a lot) and now the people are paying for the consequences.

    I mean, what further proof would anyone need after hearing our PM (who resigned in the mid of his term) is in Austrian jail? And will remain in jail for some time (either Austrian or Croatian)

  2. Ines, I haven't been following the Croatian situation, since there's not generally good news coverage of your part of the world here unless one goes specifically looking for it, but there are probably some parallels between the US and Croatia. Some of the wrongdoers end up in jail while others go free. The saddest thing is that the consequences of mismanagement last for many years and our children will inherit them.

    Unfortunately, the economy across the entire world is so interrelated that problems one place affect everyone. Sometimes the news makes me really angry and I just have to vent.

  3. Thank you, Ellen, for getting on your soapbox!

    Today, it seems, we are looking right into the "Distant Mirror" of Barbara Tuckman's "Calamitous 14th Century" . When that book was published (in the 1990's?) the parallels the author drew between the 14th and 20th centuries seemed forced. Today they appear very clear. As long as greed continues to motivate more than a regard for the common good we can count on the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and we can also count on the consequences of that kind of social imbalance. It is simply history in the making... repeating itself!


  4. Gail, thanks for pointing out the parallels between current events and those of the 14th century. Politicians seem congenitally unable to learn anything from history. Going all the way back to the Roman empire and earlier there have been innumerable instances of unbridled greed taking its toll, eventually resulting in killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. Hmmm ... maybe politicians could even learn from fairy tales, which usually have a moral, at least in their uncensored versions.