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Friday, June 4, 2010

Blog set aside

I'm trying to decide whether to set aside blogging on a semi-permanent basis, or make it about all the hobbies I've taken up instead of blogging.

You may be asking yourself what those hobbies are, and I'll tell you: Sailing, bicycling, equestrianism, and the SCA. Yes, I have plunged to a new level of geekdom, and I can't say I'm feeling the slightest drop of pain. I love camping. I love dressing up and using my imagination. Combining the two and throwing in a large group of friendly and intelligent people? WIN.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cultural Genocide: A commonplace event?

It seems that almost everyone can agree how awful it is that Native American cultures were so utterly decimated by European settlers. Lately, though, I've been realizing the extent to which it's happening everywhere. When I visit the area I grew up in, my rooted family members complain about the various invading cultures and their aggressive drivers, terrible politics, lack of manners, and boorish accents. These people are only coming from Boston!

I hear the same story from my partner, who was born and bred here in my city. He's sick of the Californian invasion. What he really objects to, beyond their bad politics and driving, are things like Portland Avenue. "What Portland Avenue?" you may ask. The one that doesn't exist. It is now known as Rosa Parks Avenue, named after a woman who did fantastic things, but never even visited the city of Portland so far as I can tell. Let me tell you, that name change really rankles with local folk.

So it occurs to me that no town, city, state or country is currently safe from the kind of cultural murder we so vehemently condemn in our recent past.

The problem doesn't seem to be so much with people moving in as it is with people moving in and then changing things to make it more like the place they came from rather than embracing the existing culture. This is definitely somewhat unfair to those who were already there, and causes them to ask...

... why did you come here only to try to make it just like the place that was so horrible that you left it?

I love exposure to new cultures, so I'm certainly not proposing any kind of weird, racist solution, but the situation does seem to me a bit similar to having a friend rent a room from you, only to have them tell you that you have to redecorate your house now that they're here. Except that you didn't even have the option to say "No" to renting them the room in the first place and they're paying rent to someone other than you.

Is it an infringement of a population's rights to have another population move in and start making changes? Should existing cultures throughout the Western world be given ways to preserve themselves in the new Global Climate? Is it all inevitable and pointless to worry about?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waste of Space Nominee #8: Burt's Bees

The Article:
AlterNet / By Andrea Whitfill COMMENTS: 227 Burt's Bees, Tom's of Maine, Naked Juice: Your Favorite Brands? Take Another Look -- They May Not Be What They Seem

The Upshot:

A lot of purportedly natural, organic, and eco-friendly are paying the fine rather than listing what's actually in their products, which includes fun, happy ingredients such as lead.

This is theoretically acceptable because you don't ingest makeup.

From Me:
I, for one, chew my lips a lot. I will have to seek out non-lead-containing lip products in the future.

This isn't the newest news in world, but I feel it's worth dredging up again, since clearly the level of attention this issue has received thus far hasn't created any change.

Burt's Bees is now owned by Clorox. This is not exactly a name brand I trust when it comes to products I put on my face. Get out that nasty stain, yes. Unclog my toilet? Sure. Luscious cherry lip gloss? Not so much.

I think it's unacceptable to permit companies to pay a fine and then continue not to list all their ingredients on their products. I think removal of their products from distribution until labeling is updated a rather more satisfying solution.

The Upshot:
Is it acceptable for companies not to list all their ingredients on their products? How would you resolve the issue?

Fun Fact Afterthought:
Natural Flavor doesn't mean flavor that comes from a natural source. It means it's a flavor that tastes like something that exists in nature (like strawberry). Artificial Flavor means it's a flavor that doesn't exist in nature (bubble gum, for example). Both are chemical.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Waste of Space Nominee #7: Farmer's Insurance

The Article:
It's Anecdotal Evidence Day!

The Upshot:
About a year ago Alexander (yours truly's Significant Other) was hit by a car. At the time he was in a crosswalk, obeying the pedestrian signal, and was hit by an inattentive Mom (hereafter known as iMom) in a minivan talking to her children while trying to find the nearby McDonald's. iMom immediately admitted her fault in the accident and gave him her name and insurance information, which he gave to the hospital he was taken to for payment of his bills.

Weeks later, he was sent a bill from the hospital saying that iMom's insurance (Farmer's) had refused payment. When he called to question them over the following weeks, he was simply told, "Use your own insurance."

Since the damages to his person were pretty extensive (being thrown 15 feet by a minivan will do that), the bills piled up quickly. He sought legal counsel and found a firm that specializes in dealing with insurance companies and hates Farmer's SO much that they took his case on a contingency basis. They usually don't even take cases from individuals, never mind on contingency. I don't know about you, but that tells me something about Farmer's reputation in the insurance industry.

It's a year later and the case is ongoing. Farmer's neither denies their client was at fault, but they won't pay, either. Alexander's credit and bank account is impacted by this.

From Me:
I can understand the business reasons that Farmer's will delay payment on this claim until the last possible moment, but seriously? Way to be an asshat, Farmer's. I will never do business with you if I can avoid it knowing that this is your business model.

Do you personally care about the business ethics used by the companies you choose for various services? How severe do their crimes have to be?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Waste of Space Nominee #6: Jack Mackie

The Article:
Photog sued for shooting a street that contained publicly funded art

I dislike this man so much I'm posting a picture.

The Upshot:
This artist is suing for pictures taken of a publicly-funded, publicly displayed sculture in a Seattle neighborhood - even after the photographer complied and destroyed the photos.

From Me:
This guy is a jackass, representative of the copyright jackassery that has been going around a lot lately. Remember when we were kids and made each other copies of tapes to pass around and listen to in school? Remember how they'd sell double-decker tape recorders FOR THAT EXACT PURPOSE?

I don't know about you, but groups like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones sold me quite a few albums and concert tickets due to that exact kind of underground distribution. I'd say that all in all, they more than earned back their monetary loss on the one bootleg tape I was gifted with in 1995 over the last 15 years. I still love them to this day.

What happened to that? If it were up to me, I'd dig up this guy's sculpture, return it to him, and ask for a refund.

Public art is paid for by the public and should therefore be available to the public for whatever they want to do with it.

It seems blatant to me that music companies, artists, etc are taking copyright infringement suits WAY TOO FAR. Is it blatant to you, though? Is there a flip side to this situation that I'm not seeing?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fun with Gift Cards

The Article:
Judge censured for ordering class-action lawyer to take pay in $125,000 worth of gift-cards

The Upshot:
I really hope the attorney likes the womens' clothing at Windsor Fashions.

From Me:
A poetic judge! This is fantastic and I just had to share.

Does the world have some justice after all?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010