27 August 2008

The New World Order

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Browsing through my links, as I often do, I came across the following video on a couple of different sites.

The video, produced by the American News Project, a new venture aimed at independence in media and truth in reporting. They also have a bias toward the underprivileged. In this case, they are following one of the protests related to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. As you can see, they stumble upon some curious tactics by the police in response to their efforts to be heard.

For a while, it seems like the US has been becoming an increasingly fascist state. It feels like more and more of their enshrined rights are being eroded in the interest of government control over the day-to-day lives of the citizens.

I think it's plausible to consider that no one imagined having to look after 450 million people in one country. People point to China's human rights record with disdain (including me, as a human rights advocate), but how do you reasonably operate in a country with 1.3 billion people? How do you make it work? In Canada we panic over the thought of Quebec separating; East Timor split from Indonesia (after a prolonged military occupation); very recently, fighting broke out in "break-away region" of South Ossetia. When people within a nation disagree, especially when it comes down to cultural groups, governments tend to react strongly to any attempt to secede. It perhaps makes sense, then, that governments would react strongly before it gets to that point, especially when the dissenting group is lamenting a loss of "what used to be" and the government is trying to stringently implement a new status quo.

Of course, this is simplistic. But at the same time, it feels more and more like a monoculture is the only way to ensure that things run smoothly. Of course, I think that it depends on what your definition of "smoothly" is. Mine includes people not trying to impose their beliefs on others, but not everyone works that way. Some people beliefs include imposing their beliefs on others. So, we find ourselves in a paradox.

There is no definitive answer, however, it seems to me that the only option is to keep fighting for the freedom to speak out and be different and want different.

(For more on South Ossetia, check out Matthew Good's recent musings on their independence.)

26 August 2008

Put your money where your mouth is

I use Brita filters. I like the way they work. Because I have stomach sensitivities, I find it helps to take some of the trace minerals and chlorine from my drinking water. But lately, I have been wondering about the filters.

I'm not the only one. Yesterday's Daily Bite from IdealBite.com addressed this very issue. In it, they link to a petition for Clorox, which is the parent company of Brita. If you're concerned about all those plastic tubes going in the garbage, why not sign it? The IdealBite tip also lists ways to contact other filter manufacturers about the same issue. And lest you pooh-pooh this idea, saying that perhaps there is no such option, be aware that filter recycling is already available in Europe.

Urge Clorox to take back and recycle used Brita water filter cartridges

20 August 2008

Smart Shopping

IdealBite is a great website with lots of easy-to-do conserve/recycle/be healthy tips. I've added them to the links on the left. I get an e-mail from them every weekday that talks about environmentally-friendly products or companies and things I can easily do to spend less and save more of the planet's resources.

I wanted to share the following tip about shopping because what they're suggesting is so easy. It's all about pocket guides that tell you about the good things and the bad things in some of the products we buy, including food. I printed off the lot and stuck them in my wallet for easy access.

Check it out!

18 August 2008

Altering my past

I have always been a huge fan of Disney, The Evil Corporation. My infatuation has cooled somewhat over the years. When I learned to love Disney, 24-hour television stations were virtually unheard of, let alone a station devoted entirely to the mass-produced kiddie fad factory that is the Disney Channel.

A rant in its own right, Disney has grown enormously over the last two decades, from a corporation that creates "family friendly" entertainment, to one that essentially drives junior consumerism to new heights with every new Hayley Mills or Hillary Duff clone it manufactures.

However, this post focuses on how Disney creates and enforces gender stereotypes through their depictions of men and women. I saw this video (embedded below) at Feministing.com and it made me think a lot about the Disney I know and love. The love is still there, but I'm looking at it through a filtered lens.

Disney is not the corporation that created hero worship; the ancient Greeks were lauding the feats of Achilles and Hercules millennia before the invention of moving pictures. Nor did Disney create princess envy; the King Arthur legends incorporated their fair share in Guinevere, as did the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. But Disney's versions of classic fairy tales (and more recent original stories) permeated the culture in an unprecedented way, tying merchandising into the stories in a way that allows wide-eyed children to glom onto and become the characters.

Is it any wonder that so many of us have body issues, or feel "sub-standard" when faced with animated characterizations?

A few years ago, Bitch, Ph.D. wrote about her young son watching Disney's Peter Pan and how to strike a balance between an entertaining and classic children's story, with what we now understand about the entrenched racism in the story. Disney itself struggles with some of these depictions, trying to figure out how to make its catalogue of movies fully available to a nostalgia-hungry collector-culture without subjecting itself to a boycott and other bad press by mass-marketing something that was seen as "harmless" at the time, but now highlights offensive stereotypes and derogatory views of other cultures and races. Sometimes.

At what point will we realize that the same applies to depictions of gender and what makes a "real man" or a "good woman"? Shouldn't we be sitting down with our children and explaining to them how, at one time people thought women needed to be "rescued" by men, and that we had to work to embody certain values and ideals so men would want to fight for and choose us? But guys, does it make you feel inadequate to think that you have to measure up to a genteel and buff cartoon for a woman to consider wanting to be rescued by you? I realize that this is an inherently heterosexist line of thinking; Disney's lack of homosexual normalizing is another post for another day.

16 August 2008

Vigilante justice, internet-style

My favourite thing about this article, is how the internet community totally violated the thief's right to privacy in their attempt to rain justice down on him. Things that actual cops and judges can't do just get opened up in the new frontier of cyberspace. It allows for a whole new kind of public humiliation (akin to cyber-bullying).

While I appreciate how they rallied to enforce some morals, I don't think posting the kid's home address and high school is a good idea. There are some crazies out there....

15 August 2008

We can't hear you over the television

What is happening in South Ossetia is a contentious issue. As with most conflicts, there are two sides to the issue. In this case, Russia and Georgia are at odds over a region that originally broke away with Georgia following the fall of the USSR.

But right now, Georgia has the US on their side. They aren't sending troops; they're sending diplomats and the media. And so, whatever Russia's justification, Georgia has the world's sympathy right now, because of the science of speech, propaganda.

14 August 2008

Why is it wrong to just want to have sex?

It shouldn't be. Men are allowed. But that's not the way the options are presented.

For your consideration:

13 August 2008

Some humour for a change

So, maybe Bowser is too incompetent a leader. Could this be a metaphor for real life?

12 August 2008

My stomach is turning

spare teeth wrote about this in a much more coherent way than I can right now.

I just wonder how some people form their opinions....

11 August 2008

What's step one?

Let me tell you; I'm scared to death about what will happen if we don't get climate change and energy under control. Civil revolutions are not fun with automatic weapons. Have you watched the news lately? Scary!

So, what do we do about it?

08 August 2008

More propaganda?

For those who read and consume the news widely, looking at various news sources from around the world, it probably won't come as a surprise to you that the US has long claimed that Osama bin Laden's Al Quaeda had links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Unfortunately, for a long time after the war in Iraq started, many Americans continued to believe in the link.

Early into the war, a letter surfaced that claimed that one of the masterminds of the attacks on 11 September 2001 was trained in Iraq at the pleasure of Hussein. (Editorially, I find it curious that many other nations didn't seem to buy into it, but it helped the Bush administration bolster their case at home for continued engagement in Iraq.)

Surprise, surprise; the letter was forged.

It behooves us to look at the latest and see who stands to benefit from this latest "revelation". It certainly goes a long way to discredit anyone who was involved in promoting the war in Iraq as a security necessity. Tell-all books might be interesting and factual and tell a story that needs to be told, but they still make money for the author, so the more sensational the better. And while some might call the timing suspect (three months until the US presidential election) a lot goes into writing a book, including convincing the people you quote to let you publish what they said.

I'm biased; I'm inclined to believe that the Bush administration authorized a document forgery to legitimize continued military occupation of Iraq. I'm one of those who has long thought that the war was about circumventing the UN's Oil for Food program to increase oil exports from Iraq and open the country to foreign (read: American) control of the resource. So, while I'm trying to keep in mind that the pendulum swings back and forth on these revelations, I'm feeling smug about this latest truth.

04 August 2008


I added a new link to the sidebar for Unapologetically Female. The wonderful lady who runs it has also blogrolled me, so be a good neighbour and pop over to say hi.

02 August 2008

Some people like realism

Hooray for Keira Knightly!

She is standing up to publicists and stereotypes by telling Paramount Vantage that she doesn't want her breasts enhanced in promotional materials for her new film The Duchess.

She's happy with her body and wants other people to see it as it is... not all tricked out using digital enhancement.

Video news story at ABC.com.

She totally wins Hero of the Week.

Thanks to tricky and spare teeth for digging up some drama while I was away!