Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Epic reply to Bald Barbie idea.

Yeah, I haven't blogged in awhile - one of those times where one day slips by, then two, then five, then I alternate between thinking "No one really misses my posts anyway.  Who's actually reading?" (read: insecurity) and feeling so bad for having let so much time pass that I'd rather ignore it than fix the problem (read: insecurity).

Well, I'll half solve the issue today.  Here's a reply to an article about moms pressuring Mattel to make a bald Barbie for their cancer-suffering daughters.  My initial reaction is somewhat the same:  Why not teach the girls about real beauty instead of spending all this a) time on lobbying for yet another commercial item, and b) money on Mattel instead of giving to causes that would help fight cancer.  And s/he touches on the commercialization of health as well, which is a pet peeve of mine.  I support breast cancer research but don't need it shoved in my face everywhere I go, and besides, what about the other forms of cancer or ailments?

Anyway, on to the reply.  Read the original article here.  Please mind that yes, politically incorrect statements abound and facts need to be backed up but this isn't a school paper here, just a reply to a newspaper article.

Stupid Stupid Stupid

Here's how life works. 1) Mattel has to pay some clown (figurative clown, not literal clown...had to clear that up since I'm talking to the Barbie crowd) in a suit to design your Bald Barbie (yes, even if it's just a "normal" Barbie without hair). It still needs to be designed. Prototypes need to be built, costumes need to be created, specs need to be in place, etc. 2) Then Mattel sources the necessary resources to produce Bald Barbie -- typically this involves exploiting tax loopholes and resources in third world countries so they don't have to pay much to make your plastic P.O.S toy. 3) Then they ship and transport their resources to mainland China so they can pay exploited children and adults 12 cents an hour, because in China no one cares about Barbie, and they sure don't have $7.50 to drop on a Bald Barbie, SINCE THEY ONLY MAKE 12 CENTS AN HOUR. 4) After Bald Barbie has been produced and packaged in a language that none of those poor Chinese people understands, it gets shipped to various ports and seaboards to make sure that dimwit mothers who secretly want their daughters to develop eating disorders and get breast implants when they're 18, can purchase them at Wal-Mart (Lowest Price Guaranteed!) for $7.50, because if they're daughter isn't beautiful like Barbie (Bald or otherwise) the world will probably cease to be. If you don't believe this to be true, please watch Toddlers & Tiaras, intercept one of Kim Kardashian's actual tweets to Barbie (fake meet plastic), or simply check out the Photoshop jobs done to any actress on the cover of any magazine in the Grocery Store checkout aisle. 5) So, let's say all-in, that the cost to produce Bald Barbie is relatively low -- outside of the design work which almost certainly happened in a first-world nation, everything else is dirt cheap -- labour, resources, shipping, etc. Maybe (BIG MAYBE) Mattel spends $3.75 to produce a single Barbie and get it to North America, and in turn, charges you the consumer $7.50. So they make 50% on every Barbie. Sadly though, when you buy Bald Barbie, your $7.50 investment has to cover those costs, so in reality you're only donating $3.75 to Cancer Research or St. Jude's Children's Hospital or wherever you think that money is actually being directed. On top of that, you only have so much discretionary money. So if you spend $7.50 on Bald Barbie, it means you have $7.50 less that you can spend on non-Bald Barbie the next time you're at Walmart, which would yield Mattel $3.75 profit (since Mattel has quarterly earnings they have to hit or else those poor Chinese folk are gonna start getting a dime an hour or get exposed to more toxic resources that will give them cancer....blasphemy, ain't it?), while the CEO walks away with $11.4 million a year (2010 quote). Why don't we be honest with little girls who have cancer (or any other type of medical condition for that matter) -- and really, what does this say about kids who don't have cancer but have a disease that doesn't take away their hair -- that they are somehow less important than those other sick kids who get their own Bald Barbie? That Mattel doesn't care about amputees, or children born with AIDS, or transgendered kids? Maybe Mattel needs to produce a Barbie with a penis for them, no? I'd buy Penis Barbie, wouldn't you? Alas, I digress. Instead of spending $7.50 on a toy of which only half of the proceeds will make it through to the proper channels, let's teach our kids about the commercialization of health (Hello Red Campaign for AIDS. Hello Breast Cancer Pink ANYTHING). Publicly traded companies latch onto causes like these so ultimately you'll spend your hard-earned money with them that won't go to those causes, or only a small percentage will be donated (hidden from public view -- ie they'll only donate to a maximum of $50,000, etc), so they seem like quality corporate citizens, and you'll want to move your bank account to CIBC or buy your next sweater at GAP, where those companies will profit of your naivete and make sure they pay out dividends to their stock holders every three months. Those companies pay a premium to get on-board -- call the Canadian Cancer Society and see if they'll let allow you to associate your business with them. They'll tell you to go screw yourself unless you have $500,000 to show you care -- this in turn gets passed back to you as the consumer, in a cost that the company needs to recoup. Just donate your $7.50 to St. Judes Children's Hospital of CCS or wherever instead. It'll go a hell of a lot farther in helping those follicly challenged little girls fighting cancer have the necessary chance they need to live a long and productive life, and hopefully, fingers crossed, they won't end up with an eating disorder or depression because they can't live up to a plastic standard of "beauty". 

Submitted by JohnnyBuck052 at 7:13 PM Wednesday, January 11 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Maybe our only hope for a vacay in 2012 - it's worth a shot!

So TICO - the Travel Industry Council of Ontario - is holding a contest to give away one dream vacation a week for 8 weeks. Seeing as I'm still looking for a job and we've really bunkered down to lower our budget for 2012, date nights are about as far as we may get for vacations. =P So help me out and sign up to get me votes. And hey, no hard feelings if you win the vacation. Best luck to all! Please click this link to help me out: http://gotico.ca/c/Trax20.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Courage and Calling - notes

**Excerpts that make me ponder and/or convict me from the book Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith. To be continually updated.  Imported from Facebook.  Will note when I update.**

It will require courage; making a move might disappoint a whole host of people and lead to greater financial insecurity.  But increasingly we recognize that we have no choice; we need to initiate a change. (15)

...what must not be lost is the inherent value and potential of the individual person who is loved, called, and equipped or empowered by God to do good work. (19)

The glory of God is the human person fully alive. (Irenaeus, 19)

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams observes that the biblical ideal is not so much that we need to deny the self as to decenter the self: To see the self in truth, as an integral member of a community and society in which the only indispensable one is God. (20)

From beginning to end the Scriptures assume the all-encompassing glory of God and his work.  But this is never portrayed in such a way that it reduces human activity to meaningless or even to mere robotic actions that have no inherent value or significance. (20-21)

St. Paul urges Timothy ot fan into flame the gift of God...Timothy was urged to be proactive, to take responsibility for his life and his actions, and he is urged to see the significance of these actions. (21)

Those who argue that the ideal is for the human person to "decrease" often do so on the basis of the text in John 3:30...John was speaking vocationally (sic).  His work was that of a friend of the bridegroom, not that of the bridegroom, and so, naturally, when the bridegroom appears, it is only appropriate that the friend of the bridegroom step aside... (21-22)

We are not merely "channels" or "instruments in the hands of God."  We are, in the language of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, coworkers with God in the work of God in the world, knowledgeable and informed participants in that which matters to the Creator. (22)

...I am making a basic assumption: that each person is responsible for the choices he or she makes, and that these choices are meaningful and significant.  They make a difference.  Without God, such a thought would only lead to despair - as it has for many twentieth-century existentialists.  But with God (sic) and with faith in God, we are empowered by the thought that our actions are meaningful and that our lives can make a difference.  (22)

As Gary Badcock aptly puts it, "a theology of response does not need to be Pelagian it need only be a theology in which the reality of the human (sic) is taken seriously." (23)

We will be absorbed with ourselves if we cannot, in response to God's grace, find moral grounding, a clear sense of authentic identity and, in the end, clarity regarding our own vocation. (23)

What does it mean to take responsibility for my life in response to the way God has made and called me? (24)

Rather, we must ask, In this situation and set of circumstances, what is my particular calling which, yes, might be for the sake of the other but is still only what I am being called to do. (24)

The underlying assumption of this book is that religious work or church-related activities, while very important, do not inherenlty have more weight or significance than the work of the gardener, the business-person, the public school teacher or the pharmacist. (36, couched in the exploration of Proverbs 31 and good work)

While we certainly must not underestimate the capacity of any one person to make a difference in their sphere of life or work, the unfortunate assumption that many of us carried away from such presentations was that ordinary, daily, routine, common work was not important.  What really counted was the grand gesture, the dramatic stroke. (40)

[P]eople often assume they have done good work if they are exhausted, and that they deserve time off becuase they are completely spent.  But perhaps this exhaustion is a sign of overwork, which indicates that it may not be good work or that it is not hte right work for us, the work to which we are truly called. (42)

If a vocation represents a call of God -to serve God in the world - that vocation is sacred for no more powerful reason than that it comes from God.  Ir therefore makes no sense to speak of a secular vocation such a phrase is a contradiction in terms.  A vocation is sacred (sic) in that it comes from God. (44)

Both Reformers [Martin Luther and John Calvin] refused to make the sharp distinction between sacred and secular that was so characteristic of the medieval world and still is evident in the language of contemporary Christians.  But Calvin went further and affirmed that each person has been assigned a station or calling from the Lord; the vocation is not something accidental.  Consequently, it is our sacred (sic) duty to accept and even embrace what God has called us to.  The sacred is not distinct from the secular; rather the sacred is that which sanctifies the ordinary and thus makes it good and noble. (45)

Implicit in this recovery of a biblical theology of vocation is a renewed appreciation of the full extent of God's kingdom.  All vocations are sacred because the kingdom is not merely spiritual.  God is establishing his kingdom on the earth as all creation comes under his divine authority. To that end, God calls and enables his children to be his kingdom agents within every sphere of life and society.  Each vocation reflects but one means by which God, through word and deed, is accomplishing this. (46, emphasis mine)

It is important to stress that in all of this we must sustain a distinction between vocation and career.  A vocation comes from God, and though it will encompass work in every sector of society...it remains a fundamentally religious principle. (46)

We are not workers (sic); we are, rather, children of God who are called to work. (47)

This means, among other things, that if we are going to thrive in this world... our only hope will be that we have a life that is congruent with who we are: who God has made us to be and how God has gifted us, graced us and thus called us. (51)

But we can neither serve with grace nor make a difference for God in the lives of others if we do not learn to live in this truth...self-appraisal makes this genuine love for others possible. (54)

...in living truthfully we no longer live with a mask, a facade, but rather with a eep honesty about who we are and awho God has created us to be. (54)

"God is not looking for ability, but availability."  This is an unfortunate mesage largely because it is partially correct and partially false...It is more helpful to recognize that God is looking for people of ability who will make their ability available (sic) to God. (55)

...your vocation will in some fundamental way be aligned to how you see the brokenness of the world. (sic) (68)

Slowly and painfully, I discovered that my spiritual ambitions were different from God's will for me....It became quite clear to me that idealism, good intentions, and a desire to serve the poor do not make up a vocation. (69-70, quoting Henri Nouwen)

[T]he need does not determine the call...it is simply not possible. (75)

...if the Messiah himself is limited in this way, how much more are we....If a yoke is easy, it means that it fits us.  It is designed around the contours of who we are; it is congruent with the character, strengths, potential and personality that we are before God. (76)

The questions remain the same: Who am I, and who has God called me to be?  And yet it is essential we recognize that we consider these questions in very different ways through the various transitions of our adult lives. (78)

Vocational integrity and vitality are only possible if there is a break from parents, from home, from adolescence.  The problem is that often this break is delayed or denied.  Parents sometimes present their children from moving into full maturity...Moving into full adulthood is not just an ideal.  It is essential for personal and vocational maturity...Fundamentally, what happens in the break from parents is that God becomes our Father, our parent. (79-80)

And what is needed from parents, more than anything else, is patience, understanding and acceptance. (83)

if anything, this cultural reality [for conformity] only reinforces the need for intentionality when it comes to parental separation. (84)

One common mistake is that of assuming early that we know our vocation, and thus we pursue an education that later seems irrelevant.  The best advice is simple: keep your options open....do not fret if in your late twenties you still lack clarity about your vocational identity.  (84)

Clarity for vocational purposes can only come after we have lived with ourselves long enough to be able to ask, for example, what matters to me more than anything else?   Then we have an inevitable choice to make: will we respond to our vocation with focus, direction, purpose and courage.  (85 re midthirties)

It is not until I really know myself and accept and embrace who I am that I am able to, in some significant measure, give myself completely to God. ... First, we accept with grace our limitations...Second, it means, positively, that we accept responsibility for our first and abilities, and acknowledge with grace what we can do. (87)

...effective, meaningful work, done at a leisuredpace, with passion, focus, energy and, no less significant, joy. (87)

They speak of regulations and requirements of the organization in ways that should be challenged, because no one is in fact insisting on a particular policy of pattern of behavior. (88)

...if we fail to make some tough vocational choices in our thirties and forties, our indecision will catch up with us; we will pay for it in our fifties. (88)

...if we face ourselves honestly, we will know that no matter how accomplished we are or how talented, capable or connected we might be, we are not really in control. (89, emphasis mine)

Such people cannot say that their vocation is "raising children" unless they are called to work in an orphanage.  We are responsible for raising our children with care.  And it is a noble task to stay at home and care for home and family.  But eventually the children grow up, and the primary caregiver will go through a crisis of identity if she or he does not anticipate this transition. (90)

Christians may retire from their jobs or careers, but we do not lose our vocations. (92-93)

...for many seniors this chapter of their life is the time when they can finally do what they most love doing...the expression or focus of that vocation, the way in which it is fulfilled, will change. (94)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Mraz song is out!

I am dying now of happiness.  Musical happiness.  Romantic happiness.  =D

This song, to me, is like Mraz meets Train but Mraz wins with authenticity and originality.  If I heard Patrick Monohan sing this, I'd say, "Nice song.  Sounds like Train recycled well again."  Hearing Jason Mraz sing this though sounds fresh and while it may overlap in some ways to songs he's done before (like "Beautiful Mess".. actually I can't think of another one), the vibe is not the same as any of them.

I'd like to go on but I need to get stuff done so I'll leave this as it is.  Not a very good review I know but eh, those are my half a cent.

On to the song!