Filed under: People
Scenes of Iraq are full of men patrolling the streets with the scariest guns I’ve ever seen. These images leave me asking “where are the women”?? One would almost think women have nothing to do with life in Iraq right now. And I’m afraid that is too close to the truth. Women in Iraq are hiding in their houses. Women in Iraq are not permitted to leave their houses because the streets have been commandeered by men with bazookas and AK47s.
In Afghanistan, women are more at risk of physical harm than ever (even under the official reign of the Taliban). Women are being beaten, raped and murdered by strangers and family alike. Women in Afghanistan are not permitted to leave their houses because they will shame their family or will be at incredible risk of harm.
Here at home, religious zealots use shame and control to maintain sexual control over women while popular culture openly commodifies women’s sexuality. I’m thinking of all those ‘bachelor’ shows where women compete to be the ‘lucky’ girl selected to marry some lame-o.* Looking at you Bang Bus. Pretty much every commercial in circulation. Bill O’Reiley’s perversely self-righteous judgement.
Though these phenomenons do not show patriarchy and sexism in as obvious or institutionalized ways as in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in all there is a global common theme. Women are pushed out of the mainstream; treated as side-notes to the sagas of men. The reproductive capacities of women are treated as commodities of men through which they secure their status and property. If only women would reclaim their bodies, their reproductive capacities and their families.
If only women would stand up and tell the men in their communities to hush up and put down those guns and Bibles. Then I think the world might finally start to make some sense again. Because with women fading further out of the picture, things sure are getting sketchy.
* While the audience laughs because they know the joke is one her — the adequate looking guy she pretends to fall head-over-heels for isn’t actually a millionaire, he is actually quite poor — and then scorn her for being superficial when the ‘relationship’ falls apart a month later.
This solar power station took my breath away. And yet I have only heard mention of it once on the news. Once. Why only once when ‘the environment’ is reported to be one of Canadians’ top priorities? The solar power station is beautiful in both aesthetics and philosophy. Check it out at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6616651.stm.
This power station produces massive amounts of energy with no greenhouse emmissions. We can have our cake and bake it too!! (Of course, increasing energy efficiency is still a very important goal. But in the meantime our ecological footprint will be greatly reduced.)
Eureka! I think we’ve done it! This to me is progress. Real human progress. This solar power station is the kind of technology humans can feel good about developing. No longer do we need to debate between hydropower, coal power, gas power and nuclear power. None of which are attractive options.
Note: I have never believed nuclear power is a viable option. 1) Look at Japan this week — we can’t even build plants that are ‘safe’ or ‘stable’. 2) How can we really talk of ‘storing’ radioactive material that will last long past our own lifetimes – even the liftetimes of our decendants for generations to come! The risks and costs to humans, and more importantly, to the world are simply unnacceptable.
Advantages to you: It tastes great! Seriously, the best coffee I’ve ever had. The brand I buy is called “Just Us”. It’s based in Nova Scotia and is sold in grocery stores. (You can learn about Just Us and order products at: www.justuscoffee.com.)
Advantages to others: ‘Fair-trade’ means the farmers who grow and harvest the coffee beans receive a fair market price when they sell the beans. Non-fair-trade coffee companies are driven to maximize their own profit, so will pay the farmers as little as they can. Since coffee beans are often grown in poorer areas, the farmers have often been forced to sell low.
Advantages to Earth: The coffee is organic, so no pesticides or other Earth-hating toxins are involved in production.
People frequently complain about the higher price of organic, fairly-traded coffee. To those people, I say that the price of other coffees are fake prices. They are prices achieved on the backs of farmers and at the expense of the Earth. Personally, I do not believe our morning jonesing for a hit of caffeine warrants these human and environmental costs. If we want our java, we should be prepared to pay the real price.
Brew on, coffee lovers. Brew on.
Filed under: People
There is a reason like 95% of our stuff has those little, gold stickers that say “Made in China”. There are probably several reasons, but this one was really hit home by this recent story:
The short and tall of it is that we strive to buy our clothing, furniture and knicknacks for the lowest price possible. But the only price we are considering is how much comes out of our bank account. There are many costs that we choose to ignore because they seem far removed from us.
Our ‘low prices’ are won by reducing production costs. Most goods we purchase directly require human labour to produce (gluing /sewing pieces together, running machines, etc). Reducing production costs for these goods means reducing expenditures on workers. And sometimes ‘staying competitive’ requires capturing and tricking people into slavery, keeping them in kilns, and starving and beating them. But I suppose some would say that is the nature of capitalism — those who can, will, in rational self-interest for one’s own success.
We as consumers are equally responsible. Seriously, equally. We provide business to those employers. Without our demand for cheap, mass-produced goods, they would have no motivation to supply. Out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. Think about the workers who have made the products you are buying. If the enjoyment you get from your purchase will counter the suffering endured by the people who made the product (and seriously, some of them are *slaves* being kept in *kilns*), please let me know what you’ve bought, because I want to get one.
Filed under: rants and raves
I am officially boycotting all things Paris. I don’t want to know about her. There is nothing interesting about her. I turn the channel, the topic, my line of vision (though its almost futile in grocery and drug store checkout lines). And I do not click on the headlines. I wash my hands of all hype surrounding the unfortunate dullard that is Paris.