Commentary, Politics, Uncategorized

How do we prioritize good deeds?

and not just good deeds, but ethics?

It seems like everyone has a cause, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot: not all causes are created equal.

Some people put a lot of money, blood, sweat, and tears, into a cause that amounts to a lot of nothing. And it isn’t just the thought that counts. Having good intentions is a good place to start, but it’s not enough. People want to feel good about themselves for doing good, and don’t necessarily wonder how running a half marathon actually affects Cancer. The idea that they’re doing a good thing and that other people see them doing a good thing, and their genuine desire to help is enough.

I’m skeptical of everything, I guess its just how I was raised. My parents gave to charity, but there was sometimes a discussion about where the money really went, and an acknowledgement that some charities are better than others. It’s very important to me that if I do give to charity or champion a cause that I can be sure it’s really doing something and that it isn’t just an empty gesture to make me feel good about myself. At least if you give money to a homeless person, you can be sure that he is getting the money, and not some CEO.

I tend to err on the side of not giving, which I guess is pretty shitty. I can’t stand the way that breast cancer has been commercialized into a trend, and I’m still not sure if the way that we aid foreign countries is really helping them.

I’ve written a little bit about this before, but I have been thinking about slavery and human trafficking recently. Last month, on Facebook, I was invited to the page “END IT: Shine a Light on Slavery,” an event taking place on February 27. As far as I could tell, participation consisted of drawing red X’s on your hands. On the website it states, “This February 27th, join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY. Draw a RED X on your hand. Tell your world that slavery still exists and YOU WON’T STAND FOR IT. Just use your influence any way you can to help us carry the message of FREEDOM so even more people know. Let’s make this SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY DAY even brighter than ever.” Unfortunately, that’s the end of it. They don’t actually tell you what steps you can take to end slavery. They just tell you how to spread the word that we should be ending slavery, to get more people to seemingly spread the word. It’s a good message, and a good way to spread it, but without any plan on how to actually do anything about it, once people are aware of it.

You see, most people don’t outwardly support slavery. Slavery is bad, and we supposedly have known this for like 150 years. Most of us thought that it was done with. Well, it’s not. Although the End It campaign fell short, it did get me thinking about slavery, which was a good thing. I thought about what I personally can do to stop it, that is buying products made by slaves. It seemed like a long shot, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was something that I had to do. It’s something that anyone can do, really. It isn’t going to be easy to end slavery, when it’s something that already isn’t accepted. It isn’t out in the open. But we can stop supporting it. We can stop buying cheap products made through exploitation. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s something that a lot of people will need to do for it to make a difference. I never thought about the fact that most of the clothing that I purchase is made in sweatshops. Nice, fashionable clothing, is manufactured in dangerous conditions, by underpaid workers, at best. Sometimes the workers are trafficked in. Sometimes they are abused. Sometimes they are children. I feel disgusted with myself for ever contributing to another person’s misery in such a way.

I’ve been looking online to try and find good places to buy ethically made clothing. What I’ve found really interesting is that a lot of these websites bulk ethics together. Some of what they sell is fairtrade, sweatshop free, etc. Some of it is eco-friendly. Some of it is vegan. But a lot of it is not all of the above. Here is something about the hierarchy of ethics that baffles me–you can buy an animal-friendly Vegan handbag that is made in a sweatshop in China. Someone is actually feeling good about themselves for not killing a cow, essentially at the cost of another human being’s human rights. Where does that fall on the scale of ethical?

Here’s the thing: when it comes to picking causes, I’m always going to choose humans. Animals are helpless, and they do need champions, but so do people being forced to work 15 hours a day. It would be great if we could eliminate all cruelty, certainly. I guess what I’m saying though is that if it came to choosing one or the other, I’m picking humans.

It’s been a few weeks since I decided to be a more conscientious shopper, and I haven’t bought a single item of clothing. I’ve made a wish list on pinterest, and when I really need a new items of clothes, I’ve found some great ethical manufacturers. At this point I have enough to keep me clothed.  I feel good about buying clothing with real value, stuff that’s well made, by people who aren’t being exploited. I won’t be able to buy as much clothing as I have in the past, but I think that the stuff I do buy will be better made and last longer. That’s the practical side of it. I also don’t have to feel bad about myself.

Commentary, Politics

What did Sarah Silverman do this time?

In Sarah’s new PSA, “SARAH SILVERMAN IS VISITED BY JESUS CHRIST,” she reminds us about the separation of Church and State.

I believe in a separation of Church and State,  and I believe in a separation of Entertainment and State… and also Church, if necessary. Even though  having Rudy Giuliani guest on SNL or having Michelle Obama make a cameo might be good for a few laughs, I think it is important that everyone know their place.

Comedians will always make fun of politicians. Will Ferrell playing Janet Reno playing with a Simba doll really spoke to me as a child. For a long time I couldn’t help envisioning George W. Bush as Will Ferrell, either. These are funny caricatures.

Then there’s the fact that  Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor. Reagan was an actor too, right?

I know, I know, all politicians are just actors anyway. But where do we draw the line” I think that there should be a line.

I might look up to famous actresses for hair and beauty tips, but any interest in their political ideologies is purely incidental. They certainly have a right to express their views, and I’ll let comedians have a lighthearted politically fueled joke now and again, but past that I think they are out of their depth.

Do I need to remind you that a lot of actors are way into Scientology?

Here’s the thing–I don’t mind a bit of political discussion, except that I don’t really pay attention to politics that much, and I’m not going to try and discuss something that I know nothing about. Nevertheless, it makes me cringe majorly when someone who knows even less than I do makes a completely uninformed political critique. I currently live outside the country, and I’ve traveled quite a bit, and everyone, especially cab drivers, wants to talk about American politics. And how informed do you think they are? I know that Americans are overwhelmingly ignorant, but people that don’t even live in America aren’t exactly keeping abreast of US current events either. And everyone knows that Hollywood may as well me its own universe, so take that into consideration.

Some actors are incredibly intelligent, like Dolph Lundgren, but most just normal people who have lots of things to do besides think critically. So… what do we do when they start taking it upon themselves to inform us about politics?

I thought that The Sarah Silverman Program was really funny. She just plays this ridiculous character who does stupid things and is kind of a bad person. Funny.

Those who know me, know that I’ll be the first to analyze humor until it isn’t funny anymore. And I don’t like jokes. I don’t like things with a punch line, generally, and I don’t like sarcasm. I like a good characterization and I like irony. I like things that are funny because they’re true, or funny because they’re so untrue.

It isn’t the be-all end-all of humor, but I think that a comedians tweets can be a pretty good assessment. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it is to write funny tweets, and I probably never have. But neither has Silverman, which is pretty disappointing. I was following her because I thought she was going to be funny, but she wasn’t, so I stopped. At some point she got serious.

It’s super uncomfortable for me to watch someone trying to funny whilst being self righteous and clearly trying to impart a message. It will only be amusing to people who already agree with what she’s saying, who can commend themselves for being on the right side of the so-called joke, and find her oh-so endearing.

I am truly not sure what she wanted to get out of it, but the main message is this: states are trying to limit where abortions can be executed. These states are controlled by the Christian Right, but because there is a Separation of Church and State, they shouldn’t be letting their religious views influence legislation. WAIT, WHAT? That is not what Separation of Church and State is about. It’s about the government not establishing an official religion, and not prohibiting anyone to practice their’s.

Her points about “one nation under God,” and “In God We Trust,” though somewhat valid, ignore the fact that these could be applicable to any number of deist religions. It’s been before the Supreme Court before, and they basically said, “what’s the big deal?”

Silverman’s problem is that a lot of  people use their religion as a source of morality, and this morality is in contradiction with what she deems her freedoms.

People forget the historical context of Separation of Church and State. It comes from a history of religious oppression, not Godlessness. We are supposed to have freedom, and no one should be forced to practice a religion or give up their beliefs. But unless your religion tells you that you must have abortions, then the separation of church and state would not be infringing on your rights by telling you that you cannot.

Think about it this way: Mormons can’t drink alcohol, there are tons of Mormons in Utah, so Utah has super strict liquor laws. Would I want to party in Utah? Of course not, but these laws were put in place by the officials elected by the people who live there. It’s what they want. Our legislative system isn’t perfect, but this is how it works. So some states will restrict abortion, because that is what their constituents want.

Abortion advocates want abortions to be super accessible and easy. You shouldn’t even have to think about it. Meanwhile, they will also say that it doesn’t “cause mental instability.” Well honestly, if it is really no big deal and you will still want it even if you have to drive a few hours, then fine. But if it isn’t worth it to you to travel across state lines or to a hospital in another county to get an abortion, you probably didn’t really want one in the first place.

Don’t forget that rape/incest/birth defects make up a tiny tiny percentage of all abortions. That is a different discussion.

Sarah Silverman, give it up. If you’re trying to convince people who already agree with you to nod their heads, mission accomplished. But your skit was all over the place, except for your observation about NCIS, which was spot on.

Commentary, Healthcare, Politics

#GotInsurance: Healthcare for Chumps

I can’t actually remember the ad campaigns of any other health insurance providers in America. Maybe it’s because we never had much choice, so they just figured we would take what we could get. Not much has changed, except for this attempt at something from #GotInsurance. I’m still not 100% sure that this isn’t a joke, but I don’t really feel like digging any deeper (it does link to a .gov website).

It seems like whoever designed the campaign based it on the commercials for Surge and stock photos from a middle school textbook about douchebags. It is meant to appeal to young people, but then goes on to make them look like a bunch of jabronis. 

I’m not following this health insurance stuff too much, because I’m living out of the country, but from what I’ve gleaned from my parents’ posts on Facebook, a lot of people got Obamacare who didn’t want it. And what do you do in a situation like that? Based solely on this ad campaign, if I were to choose Obamacare or something else or even nothing, I would have to go with the latter two options. It isn’t so much what the ads are saying about the insurance, but the way that they are saying it. Okay, it’s also what they’re saying. I’m sorry, but if it’s for bros, it’s not for me.

Insurance for when people who don’t know you want to punch you in the face.. and people who do know you want to punch you in the face.

Most insurance companies do end up providing coverage for bros, and I realize that, but they don’t go and rub it in my face. Presented with this information, what the hell do they expect from the self-respecting portion of the population? Most of us would cringe at the thought of being associated with someone who makes that face in photos (I’m talking about you “Sam”). And how about this: Your health care can cover those Dbags getting their stomachs pumped (and thus prolonging their existence). Vom.

In addition to their misguided pandering to the Bro segment, they are also targeting girls who drink red wine and do yoga. This is what young women do, so obviously they understand us and our needs. Okay, so I’m a 25 year old woman and I drink red wine and do yoga, but I resent them for trying to get jokey with me, they don’t know me. This is just a meme in the making, but the joke’s on them.

This is based on the someecard about the girls who want to work out but really just end up drinking. It’s only okay when we say it!

When practiced correctly, Yoga should help you, not hurt you. Yogis we practice Ahimsa (non-violence) which means we do not push ourselves beyond our limitations. No healthcare needed.

Then there’s the sad desperate girl who is trying to bed an obvi sleazy guy. I mean, come on.

Birth control for when you’re sleeping with a guy whose genes you don’t want anywhere near your uterus and who also  probably poked a hole in the condom. SMH NBD DTF.

The website is embarrassing itself right down to its URL: This is the hip vernacular of the youths.

If you saw these ads and thought “Yes! They’re finally making insurance for people like me,” please comment.

From what I can tell, this insurance covers accidents caused by keg stands, birth control, lesbians, the stalking of Ryan Gosling, Bike and other fitness related accidents, and flu shots. #thanksobamacare that pretty much covers all of the ailments of today’s silly and frivolous youths.