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corporate greed
Posts

  • Comedians, the Modern Day Philosophers

    Everyone loves to laugh. It’s like sneezing. Orgasmic, but without all the baggage. I love comedy with true depth and commentary on the world. It is nothing short of genius when laughter is inspired by a truth about humanity that said in another context, would be only depressing.

    I see comedians as the modern day philosophers. There was a time in human history, like in Ancient Greece, where the community supported these thinkers as they traveled around questioning and commenting on the nature of all things. Yet modern people are not so forgiving to guys roaming the streets wearing robes and sandals talking to themselves anymore. Comedians have filled that role of questioning culture, and in many ways their approach is enacting major social change.

    Take for example the recent Bill Cosby scandal. This is not new news at all. These women have tried to speak out for decades. But it wasn’t until the comedian Hannibal Buress did a set about Cosby, that the public started listening. His stand up show went viral, and suddenly these rape allegations were in the public lexicon. The viral nature of the story wasn’t just about the content, but the person that disseminated the information. Now that it is a mainstream conversation, finally these women are being heard. Yet the initial comedic packaging was crucial for this to become a national dialogue, and now it has morphed into something way more serious.

    Although we can’t just sit around laughing at all the atrocities in the world – it is a starting point. By sparking the conversation with comedy, there is an appeal that can actual ignite major shifts. The currently public shaming of Cosby is a real example of that. He may not go to jail for his actions, but at least there is an effort to actually blame the perpetrator rather than the victims.

    Investigating reality doesn’t make me a happier person. Yeah maybe I am informed on world issues like environmental destruction, the politics of war, and the financial tyranny of the elite – but knowing all this doesn’t help me sleep at night. In fact it makes me want to get in my Hybrid car, take 40,000 organic sleeping pills that maybe make me yawn, and then drive off a cliff into the polluted and over fished ocean. The more I know the more miserable I am… PBS fucking lied to me!!! Why don’t you take your rainbow star and shove it up your ass!!

    Yet we want to people to be fully aware of all the horribleness that is going on, because that is the only way we will hold each other accountable. The reason I inform myself is not because I am a sadomasochist – leather isn’t vegan and pleather gives me a rash – but more because I want to change my behavior in order to genuinely benefit society. Since I began the journey of trying to understand the world – and by journey I mean I smoked a lot pot and watched countless conspiracy theories – I have drastically changed the way I act. I am way more conscious about my consumerism, ecological footprint, and psychic self. Yet pursing a conscious consciousness is emotionally complex when most of the information we need to know is presented is such a dismal fucking way.

    If I wake up in the morning and listen to NPR or BBC world news, by 10am I am in an existential crisis of misery. I think that is why so many people turn to news sources like John Oliver because at least they can laugh while learning about the inevitable distinction of all living beings. Comedy is a platform of information spreading. I went to a comedy show last night, and the subjects were feminism, harassment, religion, racism, etc…. Perhaps it was not as highbrow as complex political theory, but they got the point across and tickled my understanding.

    Lets hope someone does a comedy set about Ferguson soon 🙁

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    November 25, 2014 • Current Events, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 1308

  • Just Because You Are Privileged Doesn’t Mean You Have To Be Entitled

    My kid is privileged. Not like Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West or anything… she doesn’t have $100,000 diamond earrings, wear designer Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, of have birthday parties where a giraffe does cocaine off a hippo’s tits. We don’t have it like that. But The Munch lives in a house where she is fed, warm, and has plenty of toys. She attends a wholesome school where they learn what acorns are made out of, and the biggest stress of her day is not getting to eat as many cookies as she wants. Compared to the vast majority of the world, pretty sure she has it fucking made.

    I know there is only so much you want to expose your 4-year old to regarding the tragedies of the world – but I also don’t want The Munch to be an entitled little shit who doesn’t understand how lucky she is. There is innocence to childhood you don’t want to corrupt, but letting your kid believe the world is exclusively a benevolent place can also be corrupting. There is a delicate balance between being truthful, and just traumatizing. I don’t think I need to explain the horror of child brides in India, but I do think we can talk about sweatshops making crappy plastic toys she doesn’t need. I am not trying to make my kid fear the world, but I do want her to have a realistic perception of it.

    I try to make these conversations authentic, and come up when appropriate. It is not like I put her to bed at night and whisper in her ear, “sleep well sweetheart… and just remember 90% of the indigenous tribes in the Amazonian rainforest have been destroyed, and every 2 minutes someone in the United States gets sexually assaulted. Nighty night.” Yet there are many opportunities to talk about complex issues and give The Munch some perspective.

    I try to provoke exchanges that help Munch understand that the world does not exist to serve her every need. No dude, you cannot keep the water running in the bath just so you can fill cups with the “waterfall.” Water is a precious resource and we have to respect it. There are children who have to walk miles to get access to water. Yeah running water is fun to play with, but once the bath is full, you have to shut it off so you don’t waste it. Fine maybe this comes to bite me in the ass when she insists I wash dishes with only a stream as thick as a pubic hair, but at least she has got the right idea!

    The Munch and I can talk about resources, environmentalism, the economy, whatever – it just has to be in a context that has meaning to her. For example, she loves to eat candy so we can debate how certain candy has a lot of chemicals, and that is why we don’t buy that kind. The chemicals are bad for your body, unfairly compete with farmers who grow organically, and make the ground all yucky. I don’t have to say how Monsanto products cause cancer or factory farmed meat comes from animals who lived in torture chambers and then were mercilessly murdered – but I can say that meat didn’t come from a happy cow, so lets find another kind.

    Kids are way smarter than we think, and they do have a sense of empathy even if they are mostly driven by their egos. They are kind of like men in that way. JUST KIDDING! There was one afternoon when Munch and I talked about homelessness, and she wanted to know if there were any children that didn’t have a house to live in.

    Munch: Who are they mom? Do you we know any of these children?
    Toni: No we don’t know them, but there are millions of them in the world.
    Munch: Can we see them?

    So we went online and looked at pictures of homeless children, and talked about why some people have money, and others don’t. It is not like we discussed major economic theory or the Federal Reserve, but she does understand the concepts of selfishness, and greed.

    Toni: Certain people have so much money that they are able to ensure that they keep making more money. Once you have a bunch of money, it is easier to maintain because you are running the businesses that make all the money. It isn’t that there isn’t enough money to go around; the problem is the way it is distributed. The people who have the most want to keep the money for themselves, and not share it.
    Munch: Why don’t they want to share? Didn’t they go to school and learn about how it is important to share?
    Toni: Well they did. But it isn’t just about the money. Money also means you have power. And people want power.
    Munch: But is the power more important than children? Why can’t the people with money give money to the children so they can have houses?
    Toni: Well, that is a good point. But it isn’t just the people that need to change. It is also the systems.
    Munch: But who makes the systems?
    Toni: The people.
    Munch: So pretty sure the people just need to change – then there will be no more children who don’t have homes.

    (Turn off that fucking bath water!!)

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  • March Against Monsanto

    On May 25th a mass protest is being organized against Monsanto.  I do not necessarily believe that protesting alone can change policy in this day and age, yet I do think that it is worth our time to do whatever we can to express our discontent with corporate plutocracy.  If anything it is at least an opportunity to better network with each other.

    We need to be as proactive as possible to an impact on how our food system works.  It is important to organize and educate each other, as well as deeply investigate the companies that are feeding us.  Right now, the best form of activism is being hyper aware of how you spend your money, and not supporting companies that are contaminating the land and their product.

    People are very impassioned when it comes to this issue, and there are many different ways to analyze information.  But no matter what your opinion on GMO’s and pesticides… whether you seem them as problematic or necessary… here are two ideas worth chewing on.

    Do you remember Russia… you know, the country we were at war with for WORLD POWER? Yeah, well they haven’t gone away – even if we did break up their empire.  Recently the president of Russia met with John Kerry and he is pretty pissed.

    “President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war… At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.”

    I don’t know about you, but a world war sounds terrifying.  Especially one that is based on corporate greed and a refusal to adapt their business model.  I am not saying Monsanto can’t make money.  Make all the money you want Monsanto.  Have it all.  But maybe not murder the bees while you are doing it?

    I think we all know how important bees are to our food system, and the rest of the world seems pretty concerned that they are all dying.  And if all the bees die what are our options? To get children to pollinate the flowers with their tiny fingers?

    The other thing worth thinking about is that Monsanto impacts the entire world’s food system.  That is too much power for any one company to have over the most precious resource on the planet.  You could have more money than god, but if you are hungry and thirsty you are going to be in a bad mood, and eventually die.  Food is vital.  Our food system needs to be governed by a collective effort, not ruled by a dictatorship.

    There are many things we can argue about when it comes to geopolitical issues, but can’t we all agree that we don’t want to die in a world war, and that eating is important?

    I am inspired by the fact that Monsanto has already been removed from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South Australia, Russia, France, and Switzerland.  It gives me hope that we can do it here too.

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    May 24, 2013 • 2 years old, Current Events, Eating, Environmental Impact, Health, Musings • Views: 1262

  • Don’t Cry Over Spilled Oil

    Exxon Mobile keeps spilling oil everywhere.  I would say don’t cry over spilled oil you big baby, but then again – oil is leaking all over the place!!  It is not like we can grab some bounty paper towels and soak it all up with one sheet.

    When an environmental catastrophe happens, like an oil pipeline bursting in your back yard, it will be in the news for sometime – and people will care about the cause.  But after the initial devastation is reported, it is easy to forget about.  Yet even though it is no longer in the public dialogue, the consequences of these horrific acts and the long-term damage should be the real news story.

    When I read about Exxon Mobile bursting their pipe over the weekend, I first had a weird pornographic image flash through my mind, and then remembered the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  I was only 9 at the time, but could recall this being the first “news” story that infiltrated my imagination.  My child mind kept picturing these poor animals choking on oil as they struggled for their last breaths.  And I couldn’t understand how they were going to help these suffering beings, or clean up the mess.  I had a hard enough time picking the glue off my hands in woodworking class and did not get how people could fix the destruction that millions of gallons of crude oil could make on an eco system.

    So it got me wondering… “what ever happened with that? Is everything all good now? I never hear about it?”  Yeah, well it turns out.  No.  Not at all.  There are still a lot of issues because of that oil spill.  According to this article, “delayed population loss from sub lethal doses of oil that affect growth and reproduction, and indirect effects of changes in the food web of the region.  Concerns also still persist about the effects of lingering oil on shellfish in the area, particularly for subsistence harvesters.”  Also, residual oil can still be found over 450 miles from the original sin, and over 13 species are still “recovering” from the tragedy.

    And wasn’t there that BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico too?  Yeah… pretty sure that shit is fucked too.  The spill happened during breeding season so all the eggs and larvae were destroyed – wiping out an entire generation.  It was like the BP spill was a giant forced abortion for all the wild life living there.  And don’t forget about the effect on our fisheries and food system… no big deal right? To eat toxic fish…

    So here we go again, another spill from the inevitably leaky pipelines.  We will hear about it for a while, but soon the conversation will disappear into the ether, and the only ones who will be talking about it will be those directly affected.  That is, if their mouths aren’t full oil.

    “Okay… fine…. its cookie in my mouth, but I am going to cry about it.”

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  • Hey, That’s MY Message!

    Information is social currency.  When I send someone a link, or post something illuminating, it contributes to my public value. The Internet allows us not only to spread information but also to become associated with it. It’s almost as if we can brand ourselves alongside the messages we are spreading.

    So last week when everyone was talking about the Monsanto Protection Act I was really involved in the discussion. This is an issue that I am very passionate about and have been researching for over a decade. I wanted to be an active part of the discussion – to help spread the message of why I think Monsanto should be a major part of the public dialogue and we should all have a clear understanding of not only its power but its product.  Our food system.

    I had first learned about Monsanto and genetically engineered food over 10 years ago when I was in college. Before understanding the science behind food, the only thing that concerned me was calories and fat grams. Then one fateful night, while smoking joints with my friend Marisa she told me,

    “You know, the reason why Americans are so overweight and unhealthy is because of partially hydrogenated oil.”

    “Wait, what is that?”

    “They, like, add hydrogen to the oil, so it is fluffier and takes up more space. They can then use less of it and save money, but the human body can’t digest it. That is what makes you fat.”

    “Why do they do that? How do they do that? And who is they?”

    “You know… they!  I don’t know Toni, I am not a scientist… look it up. But I am telling you. That is why Europeans are all skinny, because they don’t put crap in their food.”

    This really blew my mind into a thousand pieces. Before that moment, I had never considered that highly processed food wasn’t actually food. And I did not want to get fat because I was unconsciously consuming a science experiment. Forget that we were scarfing down ice cream at that moment…. We were high – remember? I am perfectly okay getting pudgy eating delicious treats, but there is no way hydrogenated oils were going to give me a muffin top.

    After that fateful conversation I started looking at ingredients rather than the silly numbers on a side of a box of processed food. Initially my rejection of GMO food may have been for my own vanity or health, but the more I learned, the more committed I became.

    I then read The Age of Access by Jeremy Rifkin, and started to comprehend the environmental consequences of genetic engineering. The massive destruction of natural resources, the farmers that it oppressed, the annihilation of biodiversity, the subsidies that forced an economic stranglehold on the entire food industry, and – perhaps most demented – gene patenting. Rifkin hypothesized that the future held forth a new economy based on owning and patenting genes. The thought of corporations and life-science companies owning the building blocks of life and leasing out the rights to it seemed like an apocalyptic nightmare.

    After understanding the full scope, I became outraged. I was so committed to this cause that I spent three years of my life trying to open an organic fast food restaurant so more people could have access to clean food, but in a format they were accustomed to. I wanted to bring organic food to as many people as I could. Even though my vision did not work out the way I wanted it to – I didn’t get to open my restaurant – I could still do my best to continue promoting the idea.

    So when everyone was talking about Monsanto last week, I made a little cartoon with The Munch and me and posted it on Facebook. It started making the rounds and people started sharing it. But I didn’t put my logo on the picture. So then I started seeing other friends post the pic, and other groups, but it wasn’t associated to me any more. I mean it was my picture, but it didn’t link back to me in any way.

    At first I was so mad at myself.  I felt like a missed a major opportunity to drive traffic back to me! So more people would see me… like me… care about me! I wanted to be the giver of the information!  Me! Me! Me! The more I saw it floating around, and not attached to me, the more I freaked out.  Of course the original picture I shared had 1,700 shares thanks to my friend reposting it on her popular page… but that had a spelling mistake in it because that is my fucking karma! (Hey! I know I am using the concept of Karma wrong here, but I am being emphatic so forgive me).

    Okay… pause….

    I found this to be a really interesting example of how the ego gets tied into things that are essentially ego-less. In reality, I should have been happy that people thought the image had value and wanted to share it. That it took a small part in spreading awareness about an issue that I cared about. But as much as my rational mind knew this, my emotional-self wanted to be credited with that message. WHICH IS ABSURD!!  It was beyond ironic that I had the audacity to feel used by people sharing my picture without crediting me, when the message could easily say I was using it to promote myself.

    That is the thing about activism. It has to come from a pure place, and not from wanting to somehow have ownership over the message. Because to feel personal attachment to the information you are trying to spread, is the very same paradigm that we are trying to change with activism.

    “Mamma you are being silly!

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  • The Cost of Free Art

    I remember paying for art.  If I wanted to own music, I would go to the store and buy a tape. If I was interested in a movie I could either rent it, or pay more and own it.  If I wanted information in the form of print, I would buy a newspaper, magazine, book, or go to the library.  I never felt cheated. I never resented this process.  It all seemed fair to me.

    But now the idea spending money on media seems absurd.  Don’t’ get me wrong, I fully believe the creators of content should get paid… just not by me.

    The Internet has made me an entitled little shit.  I am ashamed of this truth.  The access to free art has corrupted me completely.  It is too tempting, too hard to resist, and too easy to obtain.

    I don’t really feel sorry for the poor rockers and movie stars who are making less millions.  But they are not the only ones affected.  The desperate artist is also at the mercy of the free art paradigm.  The Internet has provided a medium where anyone and everyone can expose their art to the public, and potentially gain an audience.  This democratic platform is like a wet dream for creative people, but also a really easy way to exploit your self.  You can put your heart into the process of entertaining and engaging people, but that doesn’t mean you are ever going to make money doing it.  Although in the past the middleman had control over the industry, he also made sure you got paid.

    People are relying heavily on advertising and corporate backing, but getting into bed with big business does not guarantee satisfaction.  In fact, you are majorly compromising your self, and I don’t mean in a fun S&M kind of way.  Especially when dealing in the realm of journalism and writing.  Considering 6 companies control 90% of the media in this country – that means the vast majority of the mainstream media is corrupted.  But relying solely on blogs for information, and people with little resources or financial compensations, doesn’t guarantee reliability either.  I mean I love my some conspiracy theory sites, but I am not sure that it is scientific fact that the Royal Family are lizard people.

    The idea that everyone one, regardless of income, can have exposure to information and art is magnificent and should never change.  But the idea that art is free does not honor the time and effort put into it.

    I guess it sounds like I want to have my cake and eat it too.  But I don’t get who just sits around watching a cake.

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    March 20, 2013 • 2 years old, Current Events, Education, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 944