USC speech

March 11, 2008

The man who tried to sell his life

Filed under: Uncategorized — minimax @ 10:40 am

auction : a usually public sale of goods or property, where people make higher and higher bids for each item, until the item is sold to the person who will pay most  • bid : an offer of a particular amount of money for something which is for sale  • cranky : describes an unpleasant and easily annoyed person  • cuisine : a style of cooking  • deal : an agreement or an arrangement, especially in business  • developed : advanced or powerful  • fancy : expensive in a showy way  • flirt : to behave as if sexually attracted to someone, although not seriously  • genuine : If people or emotions are genuine, they are honest and sincere  • go through with something : to do something unpleasant or difficult that has already been agreed or promised  • handlebars : a bar with curved ends forming handles which turns the front wheel of a bicycle or motorcycle so that it points in a different direction  • handstand : an action in which you balance vertically on your hands with your legs pointing straight up in the air  • nemesis : Someone’s nemesis is a person or thing that is very difficult for them to defeat  • ominous : suggesting that something unpleasant is likely to happen  • piercing : a hole made in the body for wearing jewelry, or the process of making such a hole  • possession : something that you own or that you are carrying with you at any time  • potential : possible when the necessary conditions exist  • run its course : to develop and finish naturally  • second-hand : not new; having been used in the past by someone else  • seduce : to persuade someone to have sex with you, often someone younger than you, who has little experience of sex  • social : relating to activities in which you meet and spend time with other people and which happen during the time when you are not working  • sophisticated : having a good understanding of the way people behave and/or a good knowledge of culture and fashion  • spouse : a person’s husband or wife  • taste : a person’s appreciation of and liking for particular things  • train : to prepare or be prepared for a job, activity or sport, by learning skills and/or by mental or physical exercise  • trendy : modern and influenced by the most recent fashions or ideas  • twirl : to (cause to) give a sudden quick turn or set of turns in a circle  • warn : to make someone aware of a possible danger or problem, especially one in the future  • wonky : shaky, weak or unsatisfactory



Australian student sells his life on eBay

Would you like a new life? Nicael Holt, a 24-year-old philosophy student, is selling his on the auction site eBay, offering his name, worldly possessions, circle of friends, and lifestyle to the highest bidder. Bidding started at A$5 (£2) and closed yesterday at A$7,500. The sale attracted 48 bids, with the identity and gender of the highest bidder—codenamed “ridderstrade”—unknown. eBay did not comment on the sale, but allowed it to run its course. Holt said he would go through with the deal if any of the top five bidders were genuine and prepared to pay cash. “But,” he told a radio station yesterday, “if the next five bids aren’t serious, I think I might be just about ready to give up.” 

1 Which of you would be more willing to give up your current life and trade it for a completely new one?

How often do you fantasize about starting a completely new life? Have you ever fantasized about living someone else’s life? Would you be willing to bid for somebody else’s life? What if it were for only one year? If you tried to sell your own life on eBay, how much do you think people might bid? How much would you willing to sell your life for (if “your life” included just the things that Holt was trying to sell)? If somebody did buy your life and started to live it, what would you be most worried about?

Under an entry titled “New Life for Sale!!”, the possessions offered include Mr Holt’s bed, clothes, collection of 300 CDs, surfboard, skateboard, childhood photographs, backpack, “nice lamp which your ex-girlfriend bought you”, a bicycle with “wonky handlebars” and “piercings to the value of $180”.

2 Which of you owns more of the same things that Holt owns?

Which of Holt’s possessions do you also own? Have you ever gone surfing, skateboarding, or bicycling? Which of his possessions might you be interested in having? Have you ever bought anything second-hand? Do you own anything that was given to you by an ex-lover? Does your current lover or spouse know where it came from? Are there any possessions that you would absolutely never sell (either as part of your life or separately)?

Holt promised to introduce the buyer to his potential lovers—“around eight whom I have been flirting with”, as he put it on his eBay entry—and a broken relationship with a cranky ex-girlfriend. Mr Holt also offered to introduce the buyer to his social circle, comprising “15 close friends and about 170 other friends”. He wrote in his entry: “Friends will treat you exactly as they have treated me… take me running, surfing, climbing and cook for me.” However, Mr Holt warned in ominous tones: “I have 2 nemeses.”

3 Which of you has been flirting with more potential lovers?

How many people are you regularly flirting with these days? How do you flirt? Does eight potential lovers seem like a large number to you? Do you only flirt with people who are potential lovers, or do you sometimes just flirt with someone for fun? Who is someone you know who is especially fun to flirt with?

4 Which of you has a social life that is probably more similar to Holt’s?

How many close friends do you have? Does 15 close friends seem like many to you? About how many people do you consider to be your “friends”? How do you close friends treat you? What do you usually do together? Would you be interested in being introduced into Holt’s social circle? Do you think it might be fun to be treated by Holt’s friends the same way they treat him?

5 Which of you has more nemeses?

How many nemeses do you have? How did these people become your nemeses? What nemeses have you had in the past?

Holt also said the deal would include a four-week training course “in becoming me”, including fashion sense, taste in food and “style of seduction”. He wrote that he would give the buyer “lessons in my personal history (the good and the bad stuff)”, and teach them his skills, including surfing, skateboarding, handstands and “fire-twirling”.

6 Which of you has a trendier fashion sense?

Where do you get ideas on how to dress? What are some of your favorite clothing brands? Where do you get most of your clothes? How important to you is it to dress “fashionably”? Are there certain styles of clothing that you like even though they’re not considered fashionable? Do you still wear clothing of that style? Are there any styles of clothing that you dislike, even though they’re considered fashionable?

7 Which of you has more sophisticated taste in food?

What are some of your favorite cuisines? What about your favorite dishes within those cuisines? Where do you go to eat these dishes? What is the fanciest restaurant you have ever been to? What about the most expensive meal you have ever eaten?

8 Which of you has a more developed “style of seduction”?

Can you describe your “style of seduction”? How effective do you think it is? Where did you learn, or how did you develop, this style of seduction? What style of seduction is effective on you?

9 Which of you would require a longer training course in “becoming you”?

What skills would someone need to learn to “become you”? Besides skills, what are some other things that someone one would need to learn if they wanted to “become you”—in other words, what qualities make you different from other people? Would you be interested in taking a four-week training course to learn about Holt’s style of seduction or any of the other things he’s offering to teach? Do you think it would be interesting, or boring, to have lessons in someone’s personal history? Which of Holt’s skills would you like to learn? Having learned about Holt and his life, how much would you be willing to bid for it?

WARM-UP QUESTIONS : What have you sold online? What have you bought online? Has anyone you know bought or sold something online from another person? What was it and what happened?


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